2020 – A Year Defined by Courage, Duty and Service

Sir David Attenborough with exhibition curator and Turner’s House Trustee Andrew Loukes (foreground) © Turner’s House Trust/Anna Kunst

2020 marked the 75th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War. We reflected on the courage, duty and sacrifice of a generation united by their common story. They worked and fought for what Winston Churchill described as “…the victory of the cause of freedom in every land”.

In the face of a global pandemic the men and women of our NHS reminded us that these qualities are still at the heart of our nation.

Our shared experience of Covid-19 has renewed our common story. A story of joys and sorrows. I have been humbled by the resilience of people and generosity of spirit towards those in need. Communities rose to the evolving challenges. In the face of adversity and separation from loved ones there was a sense of genuine care for others.

There can be no doubt that the government’s intelligent, fast and evolving action to support businesses will have preserved the corner stones of Britain’s economy and a huge number of families’ livelihoods and homes.

Amongst the silent majority there seems to be an intentional renaissance, a real shift towards the importance of supporting local shops, businesses and community.

A nation is defined by its history, heritage and the arts. This year has brought huge challenges to this important aspect of our lives. And yet there have been triumphs too. Andrew Loukes has won much acclaim for the National Trust through his curatorial flair at Petworth over many years. He once again attracted national attention with his sell out exhibition Turner and the Thames, at Turner’s House in Twickenham. David Beevers launched A Prince’s Treasure, an exhibition of international importance which continues at The Royal Pavilion, Brighton. The positive economic impact of the arts and heritage on our economy is often misunderstood. I hope that the government will continue to look to find imaginative ways to support this important sector of our economy which speaks into the nation’s very identity.

At Toovey’s we celebrated our 25th Anniversary with a Valentine’s night fund raiser for Chestnut Tree House Hospice – one of the many important local charities which we support.

Rupert Toovey with trademark bowtie on appointment in the downland village of Amberley, West Sussex

For me there is a joy to accompanying people through their art, collectors’ items and antiques. I have continued to be invited into people’s homes to value their treasures for auction and probate in a Covid-safe way.

We have gathered people at our specialist auctions, at times in person by appointment and at other points online, keeping people safe and supporting the government as the demands of Covid-19 evolves. Prices at our auctions have continued to rise throughout 2020.

Toovey’s re-opens on the 4th January 2021 with an exciting calendar of winter specialist auctions. I feel optimistic about the coming year and look forward to welcoming you in person or online.

It remains for me to wish you and those you love a Happy New Year.

Chestnut Tree House Supported at Toovey’s Valentine’s Celebrations

Rupert Toovey with Patricia Woolgar, Chair of Trustees at Chestnut Tree House.
Image courtesy of Graham Franks Photography

Toovey’s 25th Anniversary Valentine’s Night celebrations brought hundreds of people together and raised more than £7000 for Chestnut Tree House hospice.

Chestnut Tree’s community team provide care for children and young people with life limiting illnesses to families in their own homes across Sussex and at Chestnut Tree House. The hospice was officially opened on 11th November 2003 by Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra. It is built in the vernacular of the English Manor House on land donated by the late Lady Sarah Clutton, a person who inspired and encouraged me in so many ways. The Land was given on a 125 year lease. The rent, a dozen mixed lilies (no white ones) and a £1 coin, falls due each year on Lady Sarah’s birthday.

The children and their families have access to wonderful countryside and nature through the hospice’s remarkable wheelchair accessible, interactive Woodland Walk and Meadow Garden.

Hospices are such a bright light in our communities. They allow those with life limiting illnesses to live well whilst also accompanying and tending to their families and loved ones. And they provide the opportunity for each of us to give expression to our care for others as they depend so heavily on our donations.

Chestnut Tree House’s extraordinary services cost more than £4 million every year. With only 6p in the pound funded by government this local charity is dependent on the financial support of the people and communities of Sussex which it serves.

Chestnut Tree House is a charity close to my own heart so I was delighted that Toovey’s 25th Anniversary Valentine’s Night celebrations allowed us to come together and raise funds for this remarkable Sussex charity.

Gary Shipton DL spoke in praise of Chestnut Tree House and Toovey’s.
Image courtesy of Graham Franks Photography

Gary Shipton DL and Patricia Woolgar, Chair of Trustees at Chestnut Tree House, spoke in praise of Toovey’s and Chestnut Tree House.

Andrew Bernardi and Maria Marchant with Rupert Toovey.
Image courtesy of Graham Franks Photography

Toovey’s celebrations included a charity auction. The evening raised over £7000 thanks to the generosity of all who came and concluded with a performance of Sussex music by Andrew Bernardi and his Stradivarius Trio.

Toovey’s Directors-Tom Rowsell, Rupert and Nick Toovey
Image courtesy of Graham Franks Photography

If you would like advice on how to fundraise, support, volunteer, or to find out more about Chestnut Tree House and its work visit www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk.

Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Borde Hill Garden

Rose Garden at Borde Hill

This coming Bank Holiday Monday, 25th August, sees a Teddy Bears’ Picnic supporting the work of Chestnut Tree House at Borde Hill Garden, near Haywards Heath in West Sussex.

Our possessions are so often markers in the procession of our lives, reminding us of particular moments and memories. They allow us to share our personal stories with others. It is as if they are in some way bound up in the patchwork quilt of our lives.

Binky and Jane
Binky and Jane

The photograph of Binky and Jane depicts a plush fur teddy bear and bunny. They are a little play-worn, their fur rather thin after a lifetime of love and attention, and yet they are beyond price. Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke, the current custodian of Borde Hill House and Garden, tells their story: “Binky and Jane belonged to my late mother, Nidia, and accompanied her when she and her family fled the island of Jersey as the Germans prepared to invade the Channel Islands. They could bring only a few precious possessions with them and my mother chose these two favourites.” The Channel Islands remained under occupation until 9th May 1945. Andrewjohn continues, “My mother always held Binky and Jane in great affection.” It is remarkable that these two threadbare but much-loved characters should represent a little girl’s particular place in the turbulent procession of history in the 20th century.

Summer borders at Borde Hill Garden

The garden at Borde Hill reflects the passion of Colonel Stephenson R. Clarke, who purchased the house and grounds in 1892. After restoring and extending the house, he set about creating the garden, funded by his family’s successful shipping firm. Established in 1730, Stephenson Clarke Shipping was, until its demise in 2012, the oldest British family shipping company. I ask Andrewjohn if it could have been one of his family’s ships that had brought Nidia and her family back to England. He replies, “It could well have been; our collier ships did go to Jersey.”

The Chestnut Tree House hospice also seeks to create special memories with its swimming pool, outdoor adventure trails, games and interactive rooms. Those with life-limiting conditions and their families are blessed by being gathered together into this special place with its dedicated and talented team. Chestnut Tree House’s work is deserving of our support.

A teddy bear waiting with his young owner for the picnic to begin at Borde Hill!
A teddy bear waiting with his young owner for the picnic to begin at Borde Hill!

At its heart, Borde Hill House, an Elizabethan mansion dating from 1590, provides a superb backdrop to the formal seventeen-acre garden, which flows into a series of distinctive ‘garden rooms’, each with its own individual character and style. It is the perfect setting for a Teddy Bears’ Picnic and a great place in which to make fond family memories with games and activities throughout the day.

Binky, Jane and Nidia witnessed extraordinary events in history. Chestnut Tree House bears witness to extraordinary events in the everyday, through its very special work with children and their families – memories which, for them, are beyond price.

Our thanks should go to Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke for preserving and sharing this wonderful garden and for supporting such an important local charity.

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, supporting Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice, will be at Borde Hill Garden, Borde Hill Lane, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 1XP, on Bank Holiday Monday 25th August 2014, 11am to 4pm. Go and enjoy the fun and the spectacular garden!

For more information on opening times and forthcoming events, go to www.bordehill.co.uk or telephone 01444 450326. To find out more about Chestnut Tree House, its work and how you can offer support, go to www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 20th August 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.