Secret art auction in memory of popular schoolgirl

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Sophie Maria Taylor was an enchanting, vivacious and artistically-gifted young girl, whose delightful personality endeared her to everyone.

Sophie (pictured inset) was one of the most popular girls in her class at St Richard’s Catholic College, Bexhill, so it was with great sadness that her fellow pupils heard the news of her death on April 5 last year after a brave battle with cancer at just 12 years old.

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Under the guidance of head teacher Doreen Cronin, the college decided they wanted to do something special to remember Sophie by and to celebrate her all-too-brief life.

Chiara Wells, a class-mate and friend of Sophie who shared her passion for art, came up with the idea of holding a secret artists’ postcard auction to raise funds for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, whose hospital had treated and cared for Sophie and her family during her illness.

Miranda Pennington, artist and art teacher at St Richard’s, enthusiastically agreed to co-ordinate the project and assisted by many of the pupils, wrote to artists, celebrities and friends across the world inviting them to paint, photograph, draw, doodle, sketch or squiggle on the back of a postcard and submit their creations for the eBay auction, which opens on Thursday, June 7.

Eastbourne-based design company Custard generously donated 2,000 pre-printed postcards, some of which were sold to pupils, friends and local artists for £1, raising £500 within a few days.

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But Miranda wasn’t quite prepared for the avalanche of goodwill from around the world, with every day bringing another sackful of postcards.

“I’m absolutely overwhelmed,” said Miranda.

“Over 550 artists and well-wishers from Australia to Bexhill, Hastings and Eastbourne via Kosovo have sent me the most incredible work. Sir Quentin Blake sent two drawings, Thomas Taylor posted a Harry Potter cover illustration, award-winning portrait artist Laura Quinn Harris and BBC radio DJ Fearne Cotton also submitted wonderful works of art on the back of a postcard.

“There has also been a phenomenal show of support and goodwill from the talented amateur and professional artists here in East Sussex, as well as a vast number of postcards from talented young students.

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“On behalf of everyone at St Richard’s Catholic College, the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and Sophie’s family, I’d like to say a big thank you and hope you enjoy taking part in the auction.”

Sophie’s Secret Postcard Auction will open on eBay on Thursday afternoon (June 7) and run for 10 days only, with each lot having a starting bid of just £1.

All the contributors’ names will be revealed on the website before the auction, but their identity will remain a secret until bidding ends on Saturday, June 16.

Visit www.sophiespostcard.com for more information and details on how to take part, as well as the opportunity to browse the wonderful work included in the auction.

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Visit www.royalmarsden.org for more information on the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, for which the auction is raising money.

Words by Jean Clark

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