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Community / Jennifer’s calendar raises £2,400 for CRUK

Lockdown hobby turns into fundraiser with all 250 copies snaffled up

Jennifer Nisbet gets a helping hand despatching the calendars from grandsons Sinclair and Ollie Jamieson.

A TALENTED artist from Yell has raised £2,400 for her Relay for Life team by selling a calendar containing 12 of her paintings.

Jennifer Nisbet, who is head teacher at Mossbank Primary School, lost her husband to cancer in 2014 and has been an active fundraiser for Cancer Research UK since.

Prior to Covid-19 she had hoped to stage a concert – she is a very fine singer too – in George Nisbet’s memory before the pandemic put paid to that plan.

During the spring lockdown she started doing small 5×7 paintings “for something to do in the evenings”, which eventually germinated into the idea of doing a calendar for the Hillend Ramblers CRUK team.

The biennial Relay for Life walk was also postponed as a result of Covid-19. Jennifer explained that while she was a huge supporter of the fundraiser, the relay night itself was “something that on the night I don’t do” as she finds it “too public, too emotional”.

A selection of the calendar’s paintings.

She said it was important for anyone else who feels that way to recognise that even if you are not “there physically walking, you can still do your bit”.

Her sister-in-law and her daughter’s boyfriend have both suffered cancer so it is “a cause that’s very close to my heart”.

Shortly after George passed away, Jennifer put together an exhibition in the Old Haa Museum in Burravoe, Yell, something that was “definitely more therapeutic than commercial”.

“I’ve always painted,” she said. “With the job I have I don’t have an awful lot of time for painting but I do enjoy it.

“The calendar came about completely by default. I was doing peerie pictures during lockdown and posted one or two, ended up getting quite a lot of commissions.”

As a result the calendar is a collection of “things people wanted me to paint, mostly around Yell”.

She eventually ended up ordering 250 copies of the calendar, beautifully printed by Artmachine in Lerwick, and sold every one (“I had to turn away orders in the end”). One order came in from Oregon while others have been shipped as gifts to folk in Germany, Italy and Australia.

“I never expected it to get this far,” Jennifer said. “I’m absolutely blown away [by the amount raised] – it’s just amazing. The response was phenomenal.”

All 250 of the calendars have been snapped up.