A former patient who has helped raise more than £85,000 from jewellery and art sales for the hospital where she was treated has been given an award.

Jean Higgins, a retired dancer and former Moorfields Eye Hospital patient, leads a volunteers team hosting monthly sales of donated earrings and necklaces for the charity Friends of Moorfields.

The amateur artist made some of the jewellery sold with other team members. She also painted and sold 160 paintings - with some fetching hundreds of pounds - over the past 18 years.

The sale is held once a month, usually on the ground floor of the hospital or in the cafeteria.

While some items are made by Jean and her team, others come from donations from staff members, patients, friends and families of volunteers, and lost items in the hospital that cannot be returned to owners.

Apart from the monthly sale in which people buy things from kiosks, items also go to the Friends of Moorfields shop in the hospital.

Islington Gazette: Some of the jewellery on sale

Jean’s team have averaged £450 per sale, with over £85,000 in total to support research and patient care in the hospital. She received a Moorfields Stars award, established to recognise staff and volunteers, in late September for her long-term commitment.

“It was a lovely surprise and I really wasn’t expecting it. I have enjoyed all these years working here and it has been very nice - I made lots of friends,” Jean said.

Jean became a volunteer at the hospital 21 years ago after noticing many fellow patients were in extreme distress during their visits.

“There were many people in the hospital who hadn’t spoken to anyone for weeks, and it’s a very worrying thing to lose sight”, she said, “I had time to spare so I thought I could help.”

Natalia Tomashpolskaya, the volunteer manager at Friends of Moorfields, said: “Jean is very creative and has a special taste in art. The sale couldn’t go on without her.”

She added that Jean’s sale has become an escape zone for patients and staff, saying: “People come to the kiosk for a few minutes so they can break free from the hospital into a lighter environment. I think they find it very calming.

“Our staff always look forward to the sale. Even patients keep track of the dates to come in and look for bargains, so it is very successful.”