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Border Collie Rescue has been fortunate to have been invited to attend the Spring Exhibition of the British Society of Painters, held at the Kings Hall Winter Gardens complex at Ilkley in West Yorkshire.

The British Society of Painters is an organisation that represents the interests of its members - artists and painters from all over the British Isle.

The BSP also incorporates The British Watercolour Society and The British Society of Miniaturists.

The event is the biggest art exhibition held outside London and features the work of many talented and renowned UK artists with around a thousand original paintings on display.

The Exhibition is sponsored by The Yorkshire Post newspaper, a leading publication in the region and saviour of the event. Click on the name to visit their website, Yorkshire Post Today.

The event was opened by Dr. David Hope, previously The Archbishop Of York and now the Vicar of St. Margaret's Church in Ilkley. Dr. Hope was introduced by BSP Vice President, Maurice Lee of The Grumbleweeds who injected some quiet humour into the proceedings.

Event organiser and director of the BSP, Leslie Simpson FRSA has three Border Collies of his own and has been keen to see Border Collie Rescue attend the event for the last three years! Thanks to his persistence, this year we got there - and we were very pleased to have had the opportunity to attend.

It was quite inspirational to set up our stall and be surrounded by so much talent.

Charity organiser, Dr. Beth McClumpha, made us feel most welcome and had provided ample space for us - in what turned out to be a very full hall - with an additional small back room available for storage and for any rescue dogs we brought with us to be able to relax in private.

Leslie Simpson's personal enthusiasm for the Border Collie had rubbed off on her and she took a lot of interest in our work and the various dogs we had brought with us. We thank Beth for a marvelous write up in the catalogue and an enthusiastic introduction at the opening of the event.

One of the leading artists at the exhibition was Jonathan Shaw FBSP, FIGA, from Yorkshire. Jonathan is now ranked as the seventh best selling artist in the UK and was kind enough to donate the picture shown opposite to be auctioned on behalf of Border Collie Rescue.

Jonathan loves the sky and the uniqueness of ever-changing cloud formations, and is constantly amazed by the differences in the seascape caused by the passage of time throughout the day. In 1999, Jonathan was elected a Fellow of the British Society of Painters and the International Guild of Artists.

Below that is a photo of Nicki Oliver (left) - BCR National Co-ordinator and our mascot Mr. Tod with the successful bidder on the auction for the Jonathan Shaw painting, Rachel Wilkinson of London.

The money Rachel paid for the painting will go to our Welfare Fund which has been set up to pay bills directly involved in the care and welfare of the dogs we take in.

In the background of the photo is our 4 wheel drive off road Animal Ambulance which has proved invaluable in many remote locations where access with a normal vehicle would have been difficult - if not impossible!

Leslie Simpson FRSA is director of the BSP and a renowned artist of wide experience and range. Recently, his love of the Border Collie has led to the creation of the 'Whimsey Collie'. See picture opposite - click on it to visit the Whimsey Collie website..

Leslie also donated one of his paintings to BCR to auction and we are very grateful to both Leslie and Jonathan for their added support to our cause. The two paintings sold for a little over their normal value and together raised 381 for our Welfare Fund.

The Whimsey Collie paintings have now become a daily part of Leslie's life and the idea has grown to include a children's book 'The Adventures of Ollie the Collie'. This story is set on 'Whimsey Farm' and tells of Ollie's adventure reclaiming some straying sheep and bringing them back to the fold.

To produce this book, Leslie has collaborated with Russell Forgham who has provided the words to accompany Leslie's illustrations. The picture on the right shows Russell (left) and Leslie signing copies of the book at the exhibition. Behind them is Margaret Simpson, Director of The British Watercolour Society and Leslie's wife.

As well as the auction of the two donated paintings, BCR had been given another original acrylic painting titled 'Expression of Love' by artist J.A. Harris of Bournemouth. The painting - featured opposite - is of her own Border Collie - Gambit, who died in January 2003.

Miss Harris donated the painting after calling for some advice and assistance and sent a lovely letter suggesting we might auction or raffle it to raise funds.

As this seemed like the ideal opportunity we offered the painting un-mounted as top prize in a raffle we held at the exhibition. The raffle raised 117-50 for our welfare Fund.

Many thanks to Miss Harris for her kind donation and to all the people who bought raffle tickets and supported our cause.

We took 4 dogs down to the exhibition. Mr. Tod, our mascot. Dot, our best working sheepdog. Ben who came to us at Christmas from a local vet where he had been taken with a massive cut down his back and was due to be PTS and Pan - who is a long term foster dog who was born blind.

The picture opposite shows Pan on "Ilkley Moor Baht' At" with the Cow and calf rocks in the background. They all got a lot of attention.

The photo opposite shows Nicki Oliver on the BCR stall with Dot curled up underneath. All in all our efforts and the support of the artists and visitors to the exhibition raised a total of 847-73 for BCR funds.

As a follow on, a number of people have contacted us since seeing us at the show and have told us they are sending a donation in the post, so the total will rise further.

Many thanks to Leslie and Margaret Simpson and Beth McClumpha for making us feel welcome and making our volunteers feel valued in a world where many people take what we all do for granted.

To visit the Whimsey Collie website and British Society of Painters website, use the links below.

And many, many thanks to Frank and Helen Connally who's efforts made it possible for BCR to attend at all.
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