DEMENTIA patients in Southend will be soothed by memories of the town from yesteryear thanks to newly unveiled murals... after a volunteer artist dedicated 250 hours of his own time.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Unveiled - Lucy Hollings, Windsor ward deputy manager, Richard Ashton and Lisa Thompson, ward manager

The dementia wards at Southend University Hospital have been decorated with murals depicting images from Southend’s past such as the town’s famous pier and the iconic Kursaal building close to the seafront.

One mural also shows a glimpse of the high street in the past - with a mural showing Woolworths and its large unit on the High Street - before the shop closed in 2008 and underwent a £1million refurbishment in 2010.

The hospital is hoping the four murals, located on the Windsor and Princess Anne wards, will “spark soothing memories for patients”.

Medical experts recommend creating a calm environment to avoid dementia patients becoming agitated, while murals such as these can often be beneficial to patients, helping to spark memories from their younger years and childhood.

The murals were created by volunteer artist, Richard Ashton, from Rayleigh.

The murals took several weeks to complete, with Richard keen to dedicate roughly 250 hours of his own time to the project.

Richard is no stranger to Southend Hospital having previously painted murals in paediatric outpatients department and a seaside mural in the entrance to the Day Assessment Unit.

Jane O’Connell, voluntary services manager, said: “Richard has, once again, done an incredible job creating these new murals for our dementia patients to enjoy. Richard got his inspiration from old photos of Southend past and he dedicated so much of his free time during the quieter hours on the wards.

“It is hoped the four murals on Windsor and Princess Anne wards will spark soothing memories for patients.”

In the past, Richard has previously painted murals on Canvey’s sea wall, including repainting a mural in honour of war heroes which was vandalised.