Auction inspired by twin sister medics nets £20,000 with donations still coming in

Ewbank’s Auctioneers have raised more than £20,000 via their NHS Rainbow Charity Auction in aid of the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford, the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth and other hospitals in the region.

With members of the public continuing to donate via the auctioneers’ online Just Giving page, sums to be handed over to each hospital are increasing.

“It has been a wonderful experience,” said Ewbank’s specialist Alastair McCrea, who masterminded the event. He came up with the idea after his wife Caroline returned to work as an Advanced Critical Care Practitioner in Intensive Care at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth after maternity leave, leaving 9-month-old Joshua at home with Alastair.

Joining her in ICU was her twin sister, Francesca Riccio, a doctor who was also returning from maternity leave having given birth to daughter Willow the day before Joshua was born.
“It was an intense period for Caroline and Francesca,” says Alastair, “and while I had to stay at home to look after the baby, I wanted to do something to show my support for their dedication and the dedication of all those NHS staff on the front line.”

With the eager support of the Ewbank’s management team, Alastair set about appealing for pledges to sell in the auction, and the response was swift and huge. The 11-day, 55-lot online auction brought in a total of more than £20,000, with the top price being £11,400 paid for an original oil on canvas painting by the well-known artist Sherree Valentine Daines, from Leatherhead, who has exhibited at the Tate and is collected by the Royal Family. Daines also accounted for the second highest priced lot, a Jeroboam bottle of Bollinger champagne that she had hand painted, which took £1,469, while another Jeroboam she had hand painted with a different scene sold for £600. Another artwork, this time a drawing entitled The Surgeons, by Mark Rowbotham, fetched £800.

“When Mark and I heard about the charity auction to support the wonderful work our NHS are doing, we couldn’t help but get involved,” said Sherree. “We’re so pleased that so many people took part and we hope they enjoy our original paintings and the Bollinger special editions which I had great fun in painting! Being able to support charities in this way is an honour for us both. The NHS and all the key workers are doing such an amazing job, and having led a fundraising night for Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust last year I was so pleased to be able to do this.”

Jennie Jewitt-Harris, an artist who donated an ink and watercolour wash and mixed media drawing inspired by vintage poster designs of the early 20th century, entitled Love Sustains Us, saw it take £420. A unique free blown glass bowl in rainbow colours, with an engraved signature by the artist, Adam Aaronson, sold for £350. Individual bidders paid out hundreds of pounds for a variety of experiences donated by local businesses and individuals. A four-night stay at a holiday cottage in the Surrey Hills made £500, a morning with Aston Martin specialists Richard Stewart Williams of Cobham took £333, while a tasting menu for two at The Clock House restaurant in nearby Ripley, including champagne, was competed to £320.

Alastair said: “So many people rallied round to support the cause, both in generously donating a packed catalogue of beautiful artwork, luxury goods and fabulous experiences, and eager bidding continues to be supplemented by ongoing donations from members of the public via our online Just Giving account linked to the auction.

“Everyone at Ewbank’s can’t thank them enough for backing our campaign, and as there were no selling or buying fees, we are delighted to announce that we will also now be able to make donations to Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey as well as the Epsom Medical Fund.”

Ewbank’s chairman Chris Ewbank said: “I want to congratulate Alastair on his idea and hard work in putting this together and to add my thanks to all of those who have supported us in this endeavour. It has been a memorable experience and has lifted everyone’s spirits in what has been a challenging period.”

• Sherree Valentine Daines is launching a new collection, and is on Instagram live all this week with new work, which can also be seen at www.clarendonfineart.co.uk

Those still wanting to make a donation to Ewbank’s NHS appeal can do so via the Just Giving link at www.ewbankauctions.co.uk where they will also find a list of donors to the sale.

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