Every picture tells a story and a recently restored painting has opened up its fair share.
Last year an appeal was launched to raise funds for the restoration of The New Curate by Percy Robert Craft, a 100-year-old painting showing women who are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new curate carrying a tennis racquet.
The Friends of Lytham St Annes Art Collection wrote to the Lawn Tennis Association – the organisers of Wimbledon – for help in paying for the cost of repairs and, astonishingly, the then president, Peter Bretherton, a Lancastrian and art lover, offered to personally sponsor the full cost of £4,500. This week Mr Bretherton visited Fylde Town Hall to see the restored image and meet the mayor, Coun Kevin Eastham – his former tennis doubles partner for Lancashire.
Mr Bretherton said: “I am so delighted to be here on this wonderful occasion and feel very excited to see the painting and to share the moment with so many appreciative people. This moment will be with me as long as I live. To see the artist’s work as it must have looked when he painted it is a great privilege. I would like to thank the mayor and the Friends of Lytham St Annes Art Collection for its kind hospitality.”
The conservation has been a painstaking job, taking Janice Porter and Phillip Bourne more than 100 hours at Preston Conservation Studio.
Margaret Race, chairman of the Friends of Lytham St Annes Art Collection, said: “It was a wonderfully kind gesture of Peter Bretherton to fund the conservation and we wanted to show him how much we appreciated what he has done for us and the Lytham St Annes Art Collection.
“We had a lovely afternoon, I think everyone enjoyed it and it was great to have the opportunity to meet him and thank him in person.”