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Delighted Vicky Phelan says friend buying painting of her is 'nicest thing' anyone has done for her parents

The specially commissioned piece was auctioned to raise funds for Heroes Aid, a charity dedicated to helping healthcare workers during the pandemic

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Artist Vincent Devine and campaigner Vicky Phelan with the artwork, which was commissioned by Heroes Aid

Artist Vincent Devine and campaigner Vicky Phelan with the artwork, which was commissioned by Heroes Aid

Artist Vincent Devine and campaigner Vicky Phelan with the artwork, which was commissioned by Heroes Aid

Vicky Phelan has said a family friend buying an auctioned painting of her is the “nicest thing” anyone has done for her parents.

Last Sunday, Ms Phelan, who is known by many in her hometown of Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny, as Vicky Kelly, returned to the village to see the unveiling of her portrait.

The specially commissioned piece was created by Vincent Devine, and it was auctioned to raise funds for Heroes Aid, a charity dedicated to helping healthcare workers during the pandemic.

The painting sold for €58,000 at an online auction and was won by David Brennan, a lifelong friend and neighbour of the Kelly family.

He said he plans on lending it to colleges and universities to spread awareness for CervicalCheck and he will keep it in his home when it's not being displayed.

"I was in shock [when David bought the painting],” Vicky said on RTÉ Radio One’s Sunday with Miriam.

"I really wasn’t expecting it, it came out of the left field because I knew it was going to go for thousands.

“David is a successful businessman but at the same time I thought ‘this is a lot of money to be spending on a painting.’

“But at the same time, I thought if he is willing to bid on it it must mean a lot to him so that really took me aback, I was totally and utterly emotional because I was on my own over in America at the time.

“For my father and mother, it’s one of the nicest things anybody has ever done for them, they are not people who say too much but they were utterly so delighted and proud that David would do something like that for us.”

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The artist who created the painting, Mr Devine, said David buying the painting was the best scenario possible - as there was a worry that someone could’ve bought the piece and sold it for more when Vicky passes.

Speaking about deciding to bid for the painting, Mr Brennand said: “When we saw the portrait me and my wife turned to each other and we both agreed we had to do everything to make sure that painting came to Mooncoin because of the personal connection.

"But also because this isn’t just a painting this contains Vicky’s story and it couldn't go anywhere but Mooncoin to be close to her family and friends.”

Asked about when he told Vicky he would be bidding on the painting, he said: “I did about 10 minutes beforehand, I hadn’t said much to anybody but my wife.

“Vicky had text me that morning about something different but we had been talking about the painting and unbeknownst to her I had registered to bet on it 10 minutes prior, but, she invited myself and my wife to Listowel for whoever had bought the painting for it to be displayed in Billy Keane's pub.

“So, I decided then I better let her know that I'm bidding on it and when I did I got a text from her saying ‘Oh Christ don’t spend too much money.’”

The painting is on display for the month of January at the Solas Cancer Support Centre in Waterford, as part of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.

Ms Phelan, whose High Court action over her smear test brought the CervicalCheck scandal to light, said the painting “means the world” to her.

“I really wanted to do the book but I never envisaged doing a painting until I was approached about it,” she said.

"But, I think the painting is something that will live on forever and that my parents, in particular, are probably most proud of.

"And the fact that it’ll be at home in Mooncoin in David’s house is amazing, if mam and dad want to go look at it I know David would have no problem with letting them in, it’s just fantastic and it’s fantastic that he has a vision for the painting that it will go to schools and colleges to try and educate people and raise awareness.”

Mr Brennan has set up a website dedicated to the portrait where people can view a photo of it, called vickyphelanportrait.com.

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