The art of fundraising

PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 July 2017

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Matt Austin

Macmillan Cancer Support’s brand new charity fundraiser, Art 4 Macmillan, will be offering a double event in the form of a sale and special auction later this year. Kate Williams caught up with organisers Suzie Warren and Bridget Hill to find out what is in store

This autumn a flagship art auction and sale will be held in Exeter, showcasing some equisite work by some top artists. If that is not enough, the event has been launched to raise funds for the much-needed charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

The event will consist of two phases - one sale of art and preview over three days in September at St Stephen’s Church in Exeter; with the second being a grand black-tie affair of dinner and auction of art at Rockbeare Manor in October.

By her own admission, the project manager is no artist. So why is she putting her heart and soul into making Art 4 Macmillan so special?

Fundraising Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in South, Mid and East Devon Bridget Hill says: “Put simply, it’s because every day, in Devon alone, 20 people will hear the news that they have cancer. I have had personal experience of needing Macmillan’s support recently for a close family member. Seeing what a cancer journey can do to the person diagnosed and those closest to them, drives me to do my best.

“I’m useless in a medical setting (I pass out at the sight of blood!) but I can organise, encourage and support to bring in the huge amounts of money needed to provide our cancer services for local people.”

The Art 4 Macmillan concept came from Suzie Warren, Macmillan’s Area Fundraising Manager for Devon and Cornwall, some time ago.

Suzie explains: “I had a vision for a beautiful, prestigious art event somewhere in Devon or Cornwall because the area is such an inspiration for so many artists. Bridget was determined to bring it to Devon. We work extremely well together. I see the overall vision and desired experience and Bridget makes it happen, which is far from easy given that the objective is to generate money without spending any!”

Three years ago Suzie and Bridget created a smaller art event with the help of committed Macmillan volunteers and art lovers Andrew and Jill Corrigan.

Bridget recalls: “It was at the offices of Michelmores solicitors and raised a fantastic £10,000. We learned a huge amount too. The next event was being planned for 2016 but had to be postponed after the very sad loss, from cancer, of event organiser and charity champion Nick Agg-Manning. I feel privileged to have worked with Nick, even for what turned out to be a short period of time. His death was a blow to me as well as to Art 4 Macmillan, but, after the initial shock, it increased my resolve to make the event even more special.”

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Suzie adds: “So much has happened since that first event. Andrew and Jill are still at the core of the art team. They have been joined by Clare Law, who is not only an incredible artist herself but also very experienced in the logistics of staging art exhibitions. Artists have been invited to donate one of their best pieces and we have some fabulous paintings and sculptures to sell and auction for which we are extremely grateful.

“The first artist of international acclaim to support us was Devon-based Alan Cotton. We now have two Royal Academicians (Norman Ackroyd and Peter Randall-Page) and five South West Academicians donating as well as lots of other phenomenally talented people. Some amazing partnerships have been created with local businesses including Lawrences Auctioneers, Stormpress and Priority Pixels.

“Art 4 Macmillan is in two parts culminating in the black-tie auction of 20 pieces at the elegant Rockbeare Manor on Wednesday, 4 October. We wanted somewhere very special and Rockbeare is a gem. Guests will enjoy a sumptuous three-course dinner before the auction. I am delighted that our host for the evening will be well-known local TV and radio personality Judi Spiers and that our auctioneer will be Graham Barton, the man with the striped jacket from BBC’s Homes Under the Hammer. Lawrences will be providing their professional skills throughout and helping our buyers with their purchases at the end of the evening.”

Prior to the auction, ticket holders will be invited to an exclusive preview at St Stephen’s Church, High Street, Exeter, on Thursday, 28 September. The church will also be the venue for public viewing and the sale of other artworks in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support on Friday, 29 and Saturday, 30 September.

Suzie adds: “With Friday, 29 also being Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning day, there will also be a chance to have a cuppa and cakes at St Stephen’s too. Hopefully, one day we will be as well known for art-related fundraising, at least locally, as we are for cake!”


Macmillan Cancer Support provides practical, medical and financial support for UK people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care. No one should face cancer alone. Macmillan’s ambition is to reach and improve the lives of everyone living with cancer and to inspire millions of others to do the same. The money we spend on services comes from voluntary donations. We wouldn’t exist without your support. Thank you.

If you are affected by cancer and need to talk to someone please call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 0000.

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