He’s been commissioned by Prince Harry but artist Simon Patel’s fundraising has made its mark much closer to home in Walsall.
Selfless Simon, from Alumwell claims to be the first in the Midlands to paint snow scenes on windows and has produced a winter wonderland at Walsall Manor Hospital for his latest creation.
Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s charity Well Wishers is championing him on Giving Tuesday, the day the power of people and organisations to transform their communities is celebrated, for his selfless work that has benefitted our staff and patients.
One of Simon’s most recent additions is a 15-foot snow scene complete with Santa and his reindeer across the windows of the Main Atrium – but that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his generosity.
He has also donated a beautiful drawing of Sister Dora – Walsall’s equivalent of Florence Nightingale – of which copies were distributed to each ward, while a drawing of Captain Tom Moore raised £2,600 for the charity.
Father of two Simon, 46, was also the talent behind the stunning carved pumpkins raffled off by the charity in 2021, raising even more money.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Simon kept Trust staff spirits up by drawing portraits of nurses, while he donates presents to young patients at the Manor every year at Christmas.
Costing anything from £35 to £300, his snow scenes are the now talk of the borough, with pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and shops cramming his diary with requests for the festive artwork.
But he has used the money earned unselfishly, buying a £600 Playstation 5 for the Children’s Ward, plus a trolley and TV for the ward.
“I just feel sorry for the kids when they have to go into hospital. I remember going into hospital as an adult and I didn’t enjoy it, so imagine what it’s like for children.
“When I was a kid, my eldest brother was in hospital with a broken jaw and we missed him so much, so imagine how he must have felt.
“Every Christmas I get through 1,700 cans of snow spray – Poundland love me!”
Simon’s snow scenes started when a friend saw a picture of one in London and persuaded him to have a go.
“I fill a diary from November 1 to December 20 and I have a list of 1,000 people who want their windows decorated,” said Simon, who briefly pauses his day job laying decking to bring some festive cheer to folk.
Simon’s most unusual request was flamingos in the snow and a giraffe with a Santa hat next to Dumbo, ordered by grandparents in New Invention in memory of their late grandson.
His work has so far taken him to Coventry, Lichfield and Oldbury – all the more amazing as he doesn’t drive so has to take taxis and trains to his jobs.
Royalty has even come calling, as has a mention from TV’s This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield. “I was contacted by a lady in London who needed six pumpkins for a major celebrity for a function at a nightclub called Bodo’s Schloss opposite Kensington Palace,” said Simon, who also takes orders for snow scenes for Halloween, Remembrance Day and birthdays.
“On the night she messaged me saying it was for Prince Harry. I have no idea how she found me. She asked for two goats, which was apparently a personal joke, the day before he went to the South Pole, and the others were pirates and skulls.
“And Phillip Schofield retweeted one of my carved pumpkins and said it was very skilful.”
Simon, who taught himself to carve pumpkins as a gift to eldest son Dylan, now 16, when he was one, also received orders for skinned pumpkins from a company promoting the new Star Wars movie.
Dylan is proving a chip off the old block too, producing stunning artwork of his own, closely followed by brother Dev, 14.
To book a snow scene, search for Simon’s Snow Scenes on Facebook.
Georgie Westley, Well Wishers. Fundraising Manager, said: “Simon has done some amazing fundraising for us which has been so beneficial to staff and patients here, so he’s the ideal person for us to champion Giving Tuesday.”