At the age of 16 Richard Gawthorpe was told he was colour blind – putting to an end any hopes he had of going to art college.
However he never lost his love of art, and over the years has become one of the area’s most respected and prolific painters.
For the last 20 years he has produced the official fund-raising card for Kirkwood Hospice, raising an incredible £272,000. And now, he is hoping his latest festive offering – together with a new brochure of his work and limited edition prints – will push it over the £300,000 mark.
Richard, who lived for many years in Roberttown before moving to Mirfield, said: “Next year I will be 70, and it’s my hope that we can achieve this target before my birthday. I’d never thought about the money we had raised until it reached £250,000 and that was a real shock. I was amazed and really quite proud that it had helped the hospice.”
Richard was first asked to support the hospice in 1993 by Hazel McGill, who was its head of fund-raising. He produced several cards of Yorkshire scenes and organised an art exhibition in Huddersfield.
It was so successful that the following year he gained sponsorship to produce the first Kirkwood Hospice corporate Christmas card and organised two more art exhibitions, in Roberttown and then Oakwell Hall – where it has since developed into the popular Art in the Barn event.
Each year Richard produces two cards, one for North Kirklees and one for South Kirklees. The 2013 cards feature St Mary’s Church in Mirfield, and a Christmas robin which will be on sale after August.
The brochures feature all the cards he has done and other work for the hospice.
Richard, who was a PE teacher at Mirfield Free Grammar, says his red/green colour blindness does not affect his work.
“It’s about the way you see colour. What people see as poppy-red I see as a golden colour, but then I just select that colour from my palette,” he said.
The brochures cost £3 and will be on sale in the Kirkwood Hospice shops from September. In the meantime if anyone wants one, they can contact Richard on 01924 519218 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.