Julie Smith jumped at the chance to enter her late grandfather’s artwork into the Help for Heroes 2021 Christmas card competition. ‘’I have been in possession of my grandfather, Leslie’s, designs for some while and decided to enter them on a bit of a whim, not really expecting to hear anything back. I am therefore delighted that they have been chosen to be included in this year’s range!’’
The Vintage cards come as a twin set of 10 cards, 5 of each design, with envelopes included; all designed, manufactured, printed and packed in UK.
Julie's grandfather Leslie Douglas Savage was a keen artist from a young age and later became a member of the Territorial Army during the Second World War; active service saw him travel to Egypt, North Africa, and the Middle East. He documented his time at war in a scrapbook containing a series of photographs and sketches.
A selection of Leslie’s beautiful designs presented on these Christmas cards are believed to have been created during the 1950s, giving them a wonderful nostalgic and vintage Christmas atmosphere.
Julie talks of her grandfather’s interesting history, travelling across the world during his time in the Army and working for his local council in Staffordshire. Julie’s mother recalls him using his artistic talents throughout his life.
‘’Leslie Douglas Savage was born in Stafford in 1918. He was a keen artist from a young age and exhibited some of his work locally. From 1936 he was employed as a highways department technician at Staffordshire County Council. Leslie was a member of the Territorial Army and, when the Second World War broke out, he saw active service in Egypt and other parts of North Africa and the Middle East, probably in a peace-keeping role. He travelled there in August 1940 on a ship called the Empress of Britain, which transported troops to Suez via Cape Town. The ship was sunk later that year by a German bomber. My grandfather documented his time at war in a scrapbook which contains a series of fascinating photos and sketches.
After the war, he married Freda Wynne, my grandmother, and returned to his work at Staffordshire County Council. He remained there for a total of 42 years, retiring on grounds of ill-health in October 1978. He died ten years later, in 1988. A Staffordshire Newsletter article, marking his retirement, talks about his “artistic talents” keeping him in “great demand by the various county council offices”. It goes on to say that “whenever a sketch or a drawing of a new project was needed, Leslie could be relied upon to produce it - often in his own time”. This did not go unnoticed, and he was presented with a cheque for £250 in recognition of his additional work.
Leslie continued to draw and paint throughout his life and my mother, Jacqueline, fondly remembers him illustrating furniture and hardware catalogues for a firm based in Walsall in the 1950s. This was evening work at home to supplement his salary and to enable the family to go on holiday. She remembers the nights he spent bending over a drawing board and the smell of the ink. We believe the Christmas card designs are from the same era and are happy and proud that they are now being used in aid of such a good cause!’’
‘’I am interested in the impact of war on people's lives, past and present. As a history teacher, I have led several trips to the First World War battlefields of France and Belgium, and to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Whilst I have not had any direct involvement in the work of Help for Heroes, I therefore very much support its mission to help wounded veterans and their families’’.
Old photographs of Leslie while he was serving.
Pencil drawings and red ink work from onboard the Empress of Britain and while travelling through Gezira Island and Sierra Leone.