Family’s ‘thank you’ to hospital became ‘monster project’ that raised £100k

Max McLean, PA
·3-min read

The family of a boy whose art has raised £100,000 for his hospital said the money is a “thank you” to the medical staff who have looked after him.

Noah, 12, from Dedham, Colchester, was born with severe brain damage and has hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and is non-verbal.

Art is one way in which Noah works on his motor skills – but recently it has seen him collaborate with artists all over the world.

Noah, who has helped raise £100,000 for his hospital with his artwork
(Nathan Jones/PA)

“There’s a process for us as parents where we reach out and teach him to hold on to stuff, because his motor skills aren’t brilliant,” Nathan Jones, 47, Noah’s stepfather, told the PA news agency.

“It’s not so much about him being an artist, it’s just about him being a family member, and us doing something cool, fun and creative with him.”

A collaboration piece from Graham Freeman and Noah
(Graham Freeman/@freeman_uk/PA)

Mr Jones, a painter and decorator, decided to ask some of his art contacts if they would like to add their own interpretations to Noah’s cardboard-based background paintings.

He sent Noah’s work around the world to interested creatives, and has since received finished pieces from countries such as Australia, the USA, Taiwan, Italy and Spain.

A total of around £100,000 has since been raised for Colchester Hospital – where Noah receives a lot of his care – as a result of book sales and an eBay auction, with one piece going for more than £3,000.

A collaboration piece from Mason Storm and Noah
(Mason Storm/@masonstormgenius/PA)

“He spent a lot of his life in hospital at the beginning, and his prognosis was sadly that he probably wouldn’t come home with us,” said Mr Jones, who is married to Noah’s mother Laura.

“So he’s defying all the odds all the way, and we have a new motto now which is ‘big and strong, prove ’em wrong’ – he has done so throughout his life.

“That was our idea, to say thank you to all the hospital staff, brighten up the place a little bit and say thank you for all of the care and attention that they’ve given him throughout his life and continue to do so.

“It was completely supposed to be a thank you, and it is still now, but it just grew into a monster project!”

Mr Jones said the project is not designed to promote Noah – who has become known as Background Bob – as an artist, and is instead a way for him to be a part of the family.

Noah and his mother Laura Jones pose with some of his backgrounds
(Nathan Jones/PA)

“He’s very aware that there’s something going on,” said Mr Jones.

“It’s very hard to judge the level of how much he’s understanding, but what he’s definitely done is been really happy throughout it.”

And while Noah’s collaborations have gone around the world via artists and fans, the local impact will be felt by Colchester Hospital.

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“We wanted to try and keep the money local, it helps families like ours,” said Mr Jones.

“We’d like to do some things that give some families some respite, and give them some kind of opportunity to have some fun with their kids, or relaxing down time.”