Artists' delight at auction success

While Sophie's Secret Postcard eBay auction is now over, raising a phenomenal £12k for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, the task of sending out all 573 postcards to the successful bidders is now a priority for Miranda Pennington, a fine arts teacher at St Richard's Catholic College and the inspiration behind this extraordinary project in memory of a very special little girl, Sophie Maria Taylor.

Friday, 29th June 2018, 12:40 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:55 pm
L-R: Caitlyn, Aswani, Savannah. Photo by Mike Holligsworth

“It’s has been an amazing experience with many positives on so many levels,” Miranda told the Observer.

“It created a wonderful feeling of community in school with pupils and staff excitedly following their work in the auction.”

Talented art student Lily McGregor won the highest bid of £165 for her portrait Dog and teacher Louise Avery’s postcards of butterflies and dragonflies raised more 
than £400 for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Thomas Taylor with his sons Ben and Max. Photo by Mike Hollingsworth

Thomas Taylor, internationally-acclaimed children’s author and illustrator, visited St Richard’s last week and met many of the young artists and talented members of staff who’d contributed works for the auction.

He also signed an original illustration of Harry Potter based on his own jacket design for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, first published in 1997.

The successful bidder, an avid collector of Harry potter memorabilia in Scotland, paid £1,071,51 for the postcard and wrote to thank 
Thomas saying she and her husband were “honoured to have contributed to an extremely worthwhile cause and in some way contribute to eventually finding a breakthrough against this terrible disease”.

While famous for creating the iconic image of the Hogwarts hero, Thomas has written many adventure stories for young adults and was quizzed by many of his fans at St Richard’s as to when they could expect more of his rip-roaring yarns.

Thomas Taylor with a group of St Richard's pupils. Photo by Jean Clark

He revealed that a brand new trilogy, Malamander featuring Herbert Lemon, an eccentric seaside hotelier and the fragrant Violet Palma, will be published by Walker books next May.

Sir Quentin Blake was another of the many distinguished artists taking part in the auction, whose two enchanting illustrations were bought by one bidder for £1,250.

As well as being the first Artist Patron of the Jerwood Gallery, Sir Quentin is renowned for his philanthropy and espousal of local good causes and recently painted a mural for the Hastings Children’s Library.

“I’m involved with about ten charities, often in quite small ways,” said Sir Quentin, “but this is the first time I have done anything for the Royal Marsden and I am pleased to add them to my list.”

L-R: Rowan, Miranda, Amy-Louise, Louise. Photo by Mike Hollingsworth

For readers curious as to whose postcards belonged to which artists and how much they fetched, they won’t have to wait long.

Miranda will be publishing all the information on shortly.

She’s also promised another auction for the summer of 2020, so budding artists are being urged take a look at the artists’ galleries on the website and be inspired to get painting.

For the love of Sophie, whose legacy of courage and hope in adversity was an inspiration to everyone.

Archie, Thomas Taylor and Leah. Photo by Jean Clark

For more information on both artists visit and

Words by Jean Clark

Dog, by Lily McGregor
Lily McGregor