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Acclaimed artist Harold Riley sketches wife from intensive care bed and it sells for £50k

Harold Riley drawing his wife Ashraf from his hospital bed Photo: MEN Syndication

Salford artist Harold Riley raised more than £50,000 for the NSPCC with a sketch he drew from his hospital bed.

Despite being in intensive care for four weeks, he was determined to help the charity. He sketched his wife Ashraf as she sat in his room at Salford Royal Hospital.

Harold Riley drawing his wife Ashraf from his hospital bed and the sketch he created Credit: MEN Syndication

The sketch sold for an astonishing £55,000 at an auction held for the charity’s ChildLine service. The acclaimed artist is famous for painting American presidents, and is the only artist Nelson Mandela sat for.

Harold Riley is the only artist Nelson Mandela sat for. Credit: MEN Syndication

Speaking from his hospital bed, Mr Riley, 82, who is being treated for an autoimmune disorder, said:

“I have done work in the past to donate to the NSPCC to auction.“It dawned on me while I was in hospital that I hadn’t done anything for their gala dinner that was coming up. “I didn’t want to let them down, so I decided to draw my wife from my hospital bed. I bought her a hat from a shop in Derbyshire, which suits her very well, and she wore that for the drawing.”

– Harold Riley

Harold initially planned to donate a picture from his archive to the children’s charity. When Ashraf and daughter Kate were unable to find a suitable one, he asked them to take his sketch pad and pencils to hospital for him to draw something new.

Harold Riley and his wife Ashraf Credit: MEN Syndication

Ashraf, who made an emotional speech to an audience of 400 guests at the NSPCC annual charity ball at Manchester’s Hilton Hotel, said: “He has been in hospital all wired up for the past month in intensive care. We have been with him every day, for 10 hours a day, by his side.“I will never ever forget that feeling. I’ve never been sad like that – not knowing whether my husband is going to live or not.”

Ashraf’s powerful speech left many in the audience in tears – and led to a bidding war for the portrait. The £55,000 winning bid was the most ever raised in a single lot at the North West Childline Ball.