The Minster Tavern in Ely is proving the power of community in supporting one incredible man, who has spent thousands of life-changing hours using the pub, and who they are now hoping to help get back on his feet forever.

The pub is hosting an exhibition of once homeless Ian McKendrick’s extraordinary drawings on Friday 24th February, in the very space where the local man developed his talent whilst rebuilding his life after more knocks than most would survive.

The exhibition aims to raise £350, enough to buy reproduced prints of Ian’s eighty ‘hyper-realism’ pieces of art representing his own view of Ely, with ‘cameo’ appearances of his canine companion Lola, which he will then sell locally.

“This is far from a tale of woe but one of sheer resilience which you’d expect to find in a Hollywood blockbuster,” said manager Louise Medhurst.“We see a lot of Ian because each drawing takes between 400-600 hours of work and most has been painted in the Minster, for which we feel extremely privileged.

“The exhibition could really be the turning point. Ian’s talent is unquestionable as is his popularity within Ely and the Minster. He’s set up his own Go Fund me page and all we want is for people to donate so he can afford prints to distribute his work.”

The story is certainly one of human strength. Once a highly esteemed business and family man, both fell apart during the recession leaving Ian homeless with awful health issues. A quadruple bypass did offer a lifeline but left Ian incapable of work for three years, leaving him to survive on state allowances.

Through art therapy, Ian found a rare talent, which he developed through webinars he watched on a donated I pad. In the last three years, the Minster Tavern has helped him sell his works in Ely where he has become quite a celebrity. Even Lola, the first dog permitted into Ely cathedral because she is inseparable from Ian, is not only hidden in every drawing but also has her own Instagram with over 200 followers – which amounts to a gallery of selfies with Minster Tavern locals!

Because of the demand for the paintings now, Ian has opportunity to sell reproduced prints locally and £350 raised at the exhibition 24th February will be enough to do just that, helping Ian regain independence, pride, and a real purpose.

To get involved, head to the Minster Tavern from 6pm on Friday 24th February.

Minster Tavern, Minster Place, Ely, CB7 4EL