Artistic tribute in memory of soldier

Marlene Dobey's painting is entitled Relentless.
Marlene Dobey's painting is entitled Relentless.

Artists from Blyth have come together to honour Guardsman Michael Sweeney following the recent anniversary of his death.

Michael, who came from the town, was killed following an explosion while on patrol duty in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2010. He was just 19.

A tribute featuring his uniform, alongside artwork on the subject of war, will be put on display at the Keel Row Shopping Centre.

A short ceremony will be held at 11am on Tuesday.

This will be attended by Michael’s mother Kim Sweeney, some of the contributing artists, local dignitaries including the Mayor of Blyth, representatives from the Royal British Legion and Keel Row manager Trevor Gyllenspetz, who has organised the display on behalf of owners Northumberland Estates.

Since his tragic death, Kim has been a tireless fund-raiser for the Army Benevolent Fund – collecting in excess of £50,000.

Speaking about the commemoration display, she said: “As a family, we remain devastated at the loss of Michael.

“He was the greatest son you could ask for and we remain extremely proud of all he achieved in his short life.

“We are also extremely grateful to the local art group from the Buffalo Centre for the wonderful and inspired paintings they have so kindly produced and to Trevor for his hard work in organising this for us.”

The display includes works by artists Irene Dillon, Marlene Dobey, Carol Hartshorne and George Wyatt, alongside Michael’s portrait by Stephen Tosny.

Trevor Gyllenspetz said: “I have been moved by the deep soul-searching these amateur artists have displayed in the moving pictures they have so kindly produced to support this event and honour a local soldier.

“One of the pictures being displayed was painted shortly after Michael’s death, and the artist Stephen Tosny has gifted this painting to Michael’s mother Kim.”

The display will remain in place at the centre until mid-July.