The Edinburgh Sketcher and Kindred Connections Edinburgh Sketcher – drawing on Kindred memories Many of you will know the work of the Edinburgh Sketcher, but did you know the origins of the Edinburgh artist’s iconic musings? Mark Kirkham, like many parents we support, had no idea he might one day require the services of Kindred. When he and his wife Jo found their child suddenly needed emergency and lengthy hospital stays, it came as a huge shock. Like many parents we support they struggled with trying to cope with a demanding diagnosis, alongside the disruption to family life and the financial challenges associated with extended hospital stays. Mark, Jo and their young twins found their lives “turned upside down” by emergency admissions, long periods in Intensive Care and the subsequent numerous visits and lengthy stays in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh (better known as the Sick Kids) due to their son's unstable medical condition. Life stops. All your concentration is gone. You can only think of your child. It’s almost impossible to think about the day-to-day things, like work or bills, which don’t stop. You need someone to be there, who knows what it's like. Someone like Kindred who will automatically support you without judging. Kindred gave us advice, information, and emotional support when we needed it most. They pointed us in the right direction to access other help and services too, all the time offering a non-judgmental listening ear! Time can often feel like it's standing still when your child is in hospital long term. Kindred are great at helping things move along, so you're not stuck in the same position, and so you don’t feel even more overwhelmed when your child is finally discharged!” So, what does this have to do with Mark becoming the Edinburgh Sketcher? Having to still juggle work and home life, Mark frequently walked through the Meadows, going between the Sick Kids to his work at the Scotsman, inspired by the things he saw on his journey and during the time he had to wait (by his son’s bedside) in the hospital, Mark started making sketches on anything to hand, from paper to receipts and napkins. It felt like a bit of escapism. Sometimes a little detail like the back door of the hospital would catch his eye. As did the resplendent cherry blossom trees on his walk through the Meadows, inspiring his series of cards and prints Meadow's Blossom. Mark, acknowledging the importance of Kindred's service to parents, is donating proceedings from the sale of Meadow's Blossom items, available to buy on Etsy. Looking back, Mark tells us he felt sketching may have given him a small sense of control after having to “hand his baby over” to hospital staff. The sketches became “an escape from not being able to do anything. It was a hugely emotional and challenging time, and I needed to feel in control of something”. Now Mark looks on his art from that time as a bit of a diary too, documenting his family’s journey through life. Jo was also impressed by Kindred and their holistic support. She now works with us as an advocacy worker, supporting other families in the hospital. Receiving help from Kindred inspired Mark to give something back. He has been incredibly generous with his time and his artistic gifts, donating the proceeds of the sale of some of his artwork to Kindred and other charities that have supported his family. Most recently Mark has donated profits from cards and prints of his evocative Meadows Blossom sketch to support Kindred’s work. Kindred thanks Mark for all he has done to promote Kindred and for his generosity supporting our ongoing vital work with families. Find out more how you can support Kindred by purchasing one of his Meadow's Blossom prints or cards shown below. Find out more about Mark as The Edinburgh Sketcher here: EdinburghSketcher.com or on his pages on Twitter Facebook Instagram Etsy Read about celebrating 10 years of sketching Scotland's capital in this Edinburgh Evening News feature.Mark is also listed as a "Local Hero" on the Edinburgh "Things to do" website.