Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Orlaith Clinton

Royal Victoria Hospital staff pay tribute to 'gentle giant' Tony Doherty

Artwork has been unveiled in the Royal Victoria Hospital in memory of a much-loved staff member who died after battling Covid-19.

West Belfast man Tony Doherty worked as a portering supervisor for almost 30 years, and during his years of service, he became known for his generosity and "booming laugh".

Tony, who lived in Banbridge with his wife Deborah and son Conor, held fundraising appeals each year including a Selection Box Appeal which collected treats and toys for children in the Children’s Hospital.

Read more: Young dad diagnosed with cancer after being treated for 'sinus infection'

In November 2020, Tony’s parents Owen and Angela also passed away with coronavirus within 10 days of their son’s death.

His colleagues in the Patient Client Support Services team linked with the Arts Care Artists in Residence programme in the Belfast Trust to create a mural dedicated to their friend. The programme aims to improve health and wellbeing through access to the arts.

Tony’s wife Deborah, who works at the Royal Victoria Hospital, says it is very touching that Tony is remembered.

"It’s still surreal and shocking that Tony is gone and we miss him every day but it is so touching that he is still remembered by his colleagues, who he was so fond of," she added.

"It’s appropriate that the mural is in the restaurant where Tony loved to come for breakfast or just to enjoy the craic with his colleagues. Tony worked in many roles throughout his career and we’re really proud that his colleagues have continued his fundraising efforts especially in the Children’s Hospital.

"Tony was a gentle giant and a generous man. It means so much that Tony is remembered as the kind and big-hearted person he was."

The Colour of Loss is a collaboration between artists Helen Shields and Frank Holmes and many of Tony’s former colleagues and friends. The brightly coloured mural which is located in the Spoons restaurant is designed to represent Tony’s outgoing personality, dedication to his family and his kind-hearted nature, while other elements in the design reflect many of the challenges and loss experienced over the last few years.

Helen said: "It was a pleasure for Frank and I to learn more about Tony, who is clearly a much loved and missed member of the staff team here. Many people told us about Tony’s lively personality, his booming laugh and his pride in his family, so we wanted to incorporate that.

"The mural is bright and colourful and right at the centre is a large oak tree which represents the larger than life and strong figure that Tony was, and also the essential central role that PCSS plays in supporting within the health care system."

Frank Holmes said he wanted to include Tony's parents in the mural too: "We have included an outline of Tony standing with his parents, as well as their names. Everyone has told us that Tony was a great family man so it was very important for us to include that and indeed remember all the families impacted throughout the pandemic.

"Much of the design reflects a Covid journey that we have all experienced."

Paula McHugh, Arts in Health Manager at Belfast Trust, added: "By offering a creative space, staff have been able to play such an important role in the creation of this artwork. Sharing their memories of Tony and expressing the many challenges of the last few years has resulted in a colourful uplifting artwork which now brightens the restaurant space for the staff, patients and visitors."

Read more: Co Antrim girl diagnosed with brain tumour after falling down stairs

Read more: Young NI mum opens up about losing husband to brain cancer aged just 31

To get the latest breaking news straight to your inbox, sign up to our free newsletter.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.