A talented painter facing disaster earlier this year after a series of harrowing personal setbacks has been saved - by a rich art lover.

Julian Bettney, 53, is a familiar face in Datchet where he has operated from his studio on the Green for 30 years.

But recent years have brought a series of disasters that almost put him out of business. He was hospitalised after an accident with a car five years ago while cycling to his studio from his home near Windsor racecourse.

He said: "I was unable to paint for many months because of my injuries. I could not even lift my arm.

"Shortly after that Datchet flooded and knocked out the business for a while. Then two years of gas mains work put paid to regular trade again."

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julian said: "These COVID Times couldn’t be more difficult and trying especially for the art community. As a professional artist who depends on selling to live, it brought a sense of urgency, panic and worry."

Then came an amazing stroke of luck.

Julian said: "My best international client Thomas Weppleman arrived at my studio for a viewing again of my oil painting masterpiece, a portrait of a tree painted over three years and totalling 485 hours work, the Venus rhododendron tree at Savill gardens.

"The picture was framed with rescued timbers from The Windsor Guildhall. My client said yes, we agreed a price and he paid the first payment in March just in time for the lockdown. The other two payments came in April, £10,000 total - a new personal best direct to client from my studio.

"Single handedly my client helped save me and my business from disaster."

The future looks rosy. Julian finally paid off the mortgage on his studio two years ago. His studio was used for a scene in a film being made by a Swedish producer, whose art collection Julian is now restoring.

He said: "Someone seems to be looking out for me."