Well-known Exmoor artist Ken Hildrew has revealed that his collection of artwork will be left in his will to North Devon Hospice, to enable the charity to raise funds for the vital care and support they offer.

Ken has spent many years painting beautiful landscapes of Exmoor, and his talent gained him a considerable following.

But his world was turned upside down when his wife, Alison, was diagnosed with cancer and she spent her final weeks being cared for at the hospice.

Ken said: “Alison came home from the hospital, and it was impossible to nurse her at home so she went to the hospice, and it was the best decision we ever made. You feel comforted there. She felt secure as well, and she died with dignity. What more can you ask for?

“There was something about the hospice that was truly wonderful. It felt that, although the people were dying, they were important. They still had a life.”

Ever since this tragedy, Ken has supported the hospice how ever he can. He has made donations and auctioned his art work in their aid, but his biggest gift is in his will, by leaving his entire collection of paintings to the charity.

Speaking of the decision, Ken said: “I paint pictures that people seem to like, which is nice.

“If my body of work is sold and goes into the hospice coffers, then great. It’s an important part of our society and it’s just a wonderful organisation. They must be supported and this is how I think I can do it.”

Ken said it would be a lasting gift and will ensure that more people in the future are able to access the same level of care he and Alison did.

The gratitude Ken feels for the hospice is clear, and he added: “My motivation is gratitude as much as anything.

“Because my wife was treated so beautifully by the hospice, I just felt that I needed to acknowledge that as best I could. And the only way to do that was to leave the hospice these paintings.”

Ali Hunt, head of fundraising at the hospice, said: “Without people kindly leaving gifts in their wills, North Devon Hospice simply wouldn’t be here. It’s as plain as that.

“But not many people realise how important gifts in wills are, so it is amazing that people like Ken are willing to share their story.

“Having known him for many years, he is a wonderful man who loves this area, and he wants to see people receive the same care and support as his wife did during their time of need. So I hope his story inspires others to give in the same way.”

If you are thinking of leaving a legacy to the hospice or making a gift, call 01271 344248.