AN 88-year-old artist has painted a portrait of the Duchess of Cornwall which will go on permanent display.
Ruth Heppel, from Pyrton, unveiled the oil painting at Helen House, a children’s hospice in Oxford, where it will hang in reception.
The Duchess, who is a patron of the charity, attended the ceremony on Friday during a visit to mark the 10th anniversray of Douglas House, a hospice for young adults.
Mrs Heppel visited Clarence House three times so the Duchess could sit for her.
“We talked most of the time,” she said. “We talked about gardens and our children and things that made us laugh.
“I don’t usually talk as much as I did with her but as a portrait painter you’ve got to talk to keep the subject lively, to keep the spark going. She is absolutely lovely — very friendly, very relaxed, very warm-hearted and very funny. On Friday she came over to me and said, ‘we had such fun, didn’t we?’ which was nice.”
Mrs Heppel said the Duchess introduced her to Prince Charles, who was “very friendly and informal”, and she was shown all the rooms so she could choose one to paint in.
“They both liked the portrait very much indeed,” she said. “In fact she wanted to keep it, I think. I’d already promised it to Helen House so they didn’t think they could do that.”
It took her about a year to complete the portrait.
“I’m a very slow painter,” said Mrs Heppel. “I had to learn her face off by heart. I’m pleased because I think I got a likeness.
“I hope I’ve got a bit of her fun and general liveliness. Her sense of humour is very infectious and I hope I’ve conveyed that, along with her warm personality. I don’t usually paint smiling portraits but I thought it was appropriate.”
Mrs Heppel’s husband, Dr Kenneth Hugh-Jones, who died a year ago, had a close relationship with Helen and Douglas House as he was a consultant at Westminster Children’s Hospital.
She said: “I approached them and asked would they like a portrait and they said they would. I asked what they wanted and they said a full-size oil painting.”
She then passed on some samples of her work to the charity, which contacted Clarence House.
Mrs Heppel studied under Norman Blamey at the Chelsea School of Art before embarking on a career in portrait painting at home and abroad. She has exhibited at the Royal Academy.
Her other subjects include Kurt Georg Kiesinger, who was Chancellor of Germany in the Sixties, and former Archbishop of Wales Derrick Childs.
UPPER Thames Rowing Club is considering appointing a paid director of rowing.
Justin Sutherland, whose parents Peter and Diane founded the club in 1963, has been nominated for the role.
The Remenham Lane club says most other clubs of its level have switched to a professional coaching model.
Members will vote on the plan at an extraordinary general meeting on Wednesday.
Mr Sutherland, who lives in Henley, has been club captain for the past five years. He is also chief coach of the men’s squad and recently added women to its senior squad programme.
Under his captaincy, the men have achieved a number of top-level wins and reached the Thames Cup final at last year’s royal regatta. In a letter to members, club chairman Jon Thorber says the situation is “unsustainable” as Mr Sutherland cannot continue giving up his time for free and it is unlikely that anyone else would willingly work to his standard as a volunteer.
He says giving Mr Sutherland the paid role would minimise disruption and allow the club’s success to continue.
It is also proposed that the position of director of rowing will be for a fixed period of two years, ending in July 2016.
Mr Sutherland won the Wyfold Cup at the royal regatta in 1998 and has been a life member of the club since its foundation. His father was president until his death in 2012 when the role passed to his mother.