John’s thanks to Gorleston surgery is an oil painting!

GORLESTON’S sandy sweep is home to a cast of faceless frolicking characters enjoying a breezy day out down out by the sea.

On the horizon the outer harbour is taking shape, little more than a pile of sand - few signs in the azure sky of the storm brewing on the horizon.

For harbour campaigner and hobby artist John Cooper painting was the perfect antidote to all the cut and thrust of harbour debate - even if it did feature in some of his oils.

His latest work, pictured, was this week handed over to Gorleston’s Central Surgery to cheer patients in its new waiting room.

The gift is a thank you for staff there who have cared for retired port welfare officer Mr Cooper and his family for 35 years, diagnosing a cancer that would have killed him had it not been picked up.

Practice manager Dawn Jermany said she was “overwhelmed and very touched” by the gift to the surgery which had taken pride of place in the refurbished waiting room, adding: “I have known John for years and he is lovely.”

The 4ft by 3ft oil on canvas is based on a 2008 photograph showing the outer harbour in the early stages of construction.

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Former lifeboatman Mr Cooper, whose first brush with painting came at the age of 42 after he was injured during a rescue, peopled the scene with “stickmen” from his imagination sailing their boats on the yacht pond, enjoying the sun and pottering about on the shore.

He said: “I painted a big one before and I was going to present it to the surgery because they were having a new waiting room built, but the Pier Hotel heard about it and bought it off me so I did a smaller one at Gorleston for the corridor and told them I would do a bigger one when I could get round to it.”

Of Gorleston surgery he said: “They are the best surgery in the town, they have looked after my family and me exceptionally well. They diagnosed me with a problem and if they hadn’t I would be dead.

“When I took the picture I didn’t think the port saga would go on for so long.

“In fact it is still on-going now, I have just received a response from Nick Clegg’s secretary asking for my address which was on the bottom of the email I sent them all along.”

Mr Cooper said he wanted it to be a happy picture that people might like to try and spot themselves in.

He retired from public life earlier this year after a four year fight over the handling of the outer harbour that he believes lumbered Yarmouth taxpayers with an unfair deal - big business the only likely beneficiary.

Since 2007, Mr Cooper has lodged countless requests under the Freedom of Information Act, submitted a 17-page complaint to the borough council about the deal and even stood as an Independent in a Norfolk County Council by-election on a platform of getting to the heart of the outer harbour issues.