Ark is proud to be Sitting With Jane charity partner

Ark Cancer Centre Charity is proud to be the charity partner for Sitting With Jane – one of the most high-profile projects in a milestone year of events that will celebrate the life of Jane Austen.

Sitting With Jane will be among the showcase projects in Hampshire as the county hosts a series of events and activities to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of the world-famous author, who spent the first 25 years of her life in Steventon near Basingstoke.

A ‘Wild in Art’ event, being delivered by Destination Basingstoke and in association with Festival Place, Sitting With Jane is a public art trail featuring 24 specially-designed sponsored bookbenches which will be on display during the summer.

The bookbenches will eventually be auctioned off in the Autumn and 75 per cent of the proceeds will go to Ark Cancer Centre Charity – leaving a lasting legacy that will help and support local cancer patients and their families.

The Sitting With Jane project has been up and running for more than six months, but January saw one of the key events take place at Oakley Hall as representatives from the companies and organisations that are sponsoring the bookbenches came along to choose their designs.

There was a great selection, and the chosen artists will soon start work on the bookbenches.

Among the guests, who were impressed by the bookbench designs, was BBC MasterChef 2016 champion Jane Devonshire, who is a great supporter of Ark Cancer Centrec Charity, and gave an interview to Face TV, who were filming the event.

June will see the exciting unveiling of the bookbench public art trail and thousands of local residents and visitors are expected to make the bookbench tour a key part of their Jane Austen 200 experience this summer.

Ark Cancer Centre Charity trustee Merv Rees said the eventual auction of the bookbenches will deliver a boost to the charity’s £5million fundraising appeal which is helping to fund a unique local cancer treatment centre for Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust residents.

Merv added: “There is no doubt that Sitting With Jane will attract a great deal of attention locally, nationally and internationally.

“The 24 professionally designed bookbench sculptures will be landmark attractions during the events to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, and those involved in sponsoring and purchasing them will be contributing to a longer lasting legacy.”

Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club is among the organisations sponsoring one of the bookbenches, and President Alan Gibson is delighted that there will be an eventual direct benefit to Ark Cancer Centre Charity – one of the good causes that the club supports.

Alan said: “The Basingstoke Deane Rotarians have a proud track record of supporting local good causes and important projects, and Sitting With Jane ticks both of those boxes.

“Sitting With Jane is an exciting cultural, educational and legacy initiative that will ultimately benefit Ark Cancer Centre Charity. It is also a great opportunity to raise wider public awareness of what the Rotary Club does, and to show potential members how Rotarians have fun and make a positive difference.”

Most of the bookbenches have now been sponsored but there is still time for the last few sponsors to get on board.

For more details about the project, go to sittingwithjane.com, and for details of the benefits and opportunities on offer for bookbench sponsors, contact Jane Staff, corporate development manager at Destination Basingstoke, on jane.staff@destinationbasingstoke.co.uk or call 01256 461167.

Picture caption:

Jane Devonshire, BBC MasterChef 2016 winner and Ark Cancer Centre Charity supporter, being interviewed by Paul Friend, from Face TV, at the Oakley Hall event where sponsors chose their bookbench designs.