AUDREY Russell is proof that you can start learning a new skill at any age.

The former teacher, 85, of Portland got in touch with these pages after being inspired to draw some scenes of the village of Tolpuddle after reading articles about the Tolpuddle Martyrs on these pages.

Here you can see a selection of Audrey's beautiful pictures, which were done using a 'pen and wash' technique.

Audrey, a former teacher at the Royal Manor school, only started drawing recently - and attributes her success to her 'marvellous' teacher Lyn Newton. Audrey takes art classes on Portland three times a week with Lyn.

Audrey originally comes from the East End of London and came to Dorset when she started teaching in Poole. She moved to Portland with husband Ray in 1978.

She said: "My background is in archaeology, I have a degree in it.

"I joined a painting class and said I wanted to learn how to paint and draw and I managed this thanks to Lyn, who is everything a teacher should be. She's marvellous.

"I suppose creativity must run in the family because my daughter Kate Wyatt is a professional artist and my youngest daughter is in Japan working in the theatre industry."

Audrey's drawings of Tolpuddle are the first series of drawings she has done.

She was inspired to go and look around the village after seeing an article in Looking Back on martyr James Hammett's descendants.

"If you walk around it's so quiet there and you can really imagine what it's like."

On their visit to the village, Audrey sketched streets and buildings in Tolpuddle while her husband Roy patiently waited.

The couple also took photos of the things Audrey was sketching so she could complete the pictures at home in her dining room.

Audrey also got chatting to the landlady at the Martyrs Inn in Tolpuddle and decided to draw the pub, which dates back to 1921 - a drawing she has since given to the village hostelry.

Another picture shows the house in Tolpuddle where James Hammett, the only martyr to return to Tolpuddle following deportation to Australia, lived until he moved to the Dorchester Workhouse, where he died in 1891. Audrey also drew the main road and surrounding cottages, plus the green frequented by the martyrs themselves. She also sketched the grade II listed former Methodist Chapel in Tolpuddle, which is the subject of a restoration project. Those behind the project say the building 'reflects the lives and hardships of the people who built it and their desire for change,' and the Trust hope its restoration will preserve the legacy of the Tolpuddle Martyrs for future generations.

But Audrey isn't stopping there - her next task will be to draw the old forge at Tolpuddle and the churchyard where James Hammett is buried.

She said: "I would encourage anyone to take up something new at any age, especially when you have such a good teacher."