Big name stars and politicians including Stephen Fry, Lorraine Kelly, and the Prime Minister David Cameron are throwing their support behind a South Tyneside hospice.
They are among dozens of people who have opened their hearts for St Clare’s Hospice’s latest fundraising venture.
Bosses at the hospice, in Primrose Terrace, Jarrow, asked prominent people, including South Shields artist Bob Olley, to decorate a wooden heart to be sold in aid of the charity’s Heart for the Hospice campaign.
St Clare’s, which provides palliative care to the people of South Tyneside with life-limiting illnesses, has to raise £1.4m every year to keep its doors open.
The hearts, which have been created anonymously, will go on display at the Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, from November 17 to 22, with South Shields-born animator Sheila Graber, who worked on the Paddington Bear TV series, compering a special invitation-only preview evening on November 16.
She said: “I have always believed that everyone is an artist in their own way – over 20 years of teaching in South Shields proved this to be true and now we see it again in the huge range of artwork created by folks from all works of life.
The exhibition is nothing like we have ever done before. It’s really exciting and we have had some amazing contributions.Tyler Anderson, St Clare’s Hospice
“There have been contributions from TV presenters, community groups, politicians, actors, comedians, and professional artists. They have taken the time to produce artwork from the heart to help raise funds for one of the worthiest causes in our community. Do try to find the time to give your support and purchase a heart, maybe you will be inspired to go home and get creative yourself.”
Tyler Anderson, community fundraiser for the hospice, said: “The exhibition is nothing like we have ever done before. It’s really exciting and we have had some amazing contributions.
“We plan to exhibit around 200 hearts and all the hearts will be offered for sale on an anonymous basis. There will be a two tier pricing system and a silent auction on certain special hearts.
“However the identity of the artist will not be disclosed until after people have purchased their piece of art, although a full list of contributors will be published in a catalogue.
“Therefore you will literally have to go with your heart and choose the heart you like, as opposed to the name behind it. Once the heart has been purchased, the artist will be revealed, along with a certificate of authenticity.”
Bob Olley, famous local artist contributed a heart to be raffled throughout the exhibition.
He said: “Over the years I have been involved with a number of fundraising events for the hospice, for example my partner and I spent a challenging week in the Mongolian desert riding bad-tempered two humped camels. I also worked on events with the late, great comedian Frank Carson who also supported St Clare’s.
“I think the Have a Heart exhibition is a great idea and I am pleased to have been asked to take part. I am much more comfortable helping to raise funds for a local charity rather than one of the national organisations.”