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Fred Dibnah painting to be auctioned in aid of Rossendale Hospice
AN ARTIST who started painting while struggling with a life-threatening kidney disease is auctioning off his portrait of famous steeplejack Fred Dibnah in aid of Rossendale Hospice.
Robin Sharples, 49, who is from Cowpe, and owns the Milltown Gallery in Waterfoot, will be joined by Sheila, the wife of late TV personality Fred for the event on Saturday.
Mr Sharples, a dad-of-one, began painting watercolours when he was recovering at home after his second kidney transplant in 1986, aged 21.
He has had three kidney transplants since falling sick with Alport syndrome, a hereditary disorder which Mr Sharples' mother also suffered from, at the age of 14.
He said: “When you’ve had a transplant, it’s an incentive to get things done.
“Because you never know how long it’s going to last. I’ve always been interested in the industrial history of the North West, since my early teens.
“I got to know people involved with steeplejacking.
“And Sheila and Fred were a big part of that, that’s why I wanted to paint him.
“We thought it would be a good thing to donate the money raised by the portrait to Rossendale Hospice because it’s such a good cause.
“If we raise £200 for it then that would be great, but obviously we’d like to raise as much as possible.”
Sheila has written a book called A Cast Iron Will about her life and experiences with Fred which she will be reading from and signing at the gallery, next door to Waterfoot Post Office, on the day.
There will also be mince pies and hot drinks served from noon.
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