AN INSPIRING centenarian who raised more than £60,000 for charity says she is amazed by an artist’s portrait of her.

Joan Willett, 104, walked the steep hill outside her care home in Hastings to raise cash for the British Heart Foundation.

In the process she captured the nation’s hearts, earning praise from politicians, celebrities, and fellow centenarian fundraiser Captain Tom.

The Argus:

Joan Willett was praised by Captain Tom

Now artist Gemma Jones has captured her likeness in a portrait for her which has been gifted to Joan as a “thank you”.

Joan raised the money after getting life-saving valve replacement surgery after a second heart attack when she was 82.

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She said: “Gemma’s portrait of me is incredible, I can’t get over how much it looks like me.

“I was stunned when I received it and have written to Gemma to thank her.

“The best thing about doing my walk for the BHF has been the kindness of total strangers like Gemma who have supported me.

The Argus:

Joan is delighted with her portrait

“You rarely hear about the good things that people do, but the reaction I’ve had proves there’s so much kindness in the world and that keeps me going.”

Manager of Old Hastings House Jason Denny said: “We unveiled the portrait to Joan at our weekly residents’ meeting and she was absolutely speechless – as was everyone else.

“Gemma has done a beautiful tribute to an amazing lady.”

Gemma said: “I love drawing people who have got a story to tell and trying to portray their character through my art.

The Argus:

Artist Gemma Jones

“I was so inspired by Joan’s story and how amazing she is at her age I wanted to draw her and try to capture her remarkable spirit.

“With Joan I wanted to focus the detail on her face, and I kept going back to add to it over the course of a week. I am delighted she thinks I have done her justice.”

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