Sitting With Jane bookbench auction looms

So, today's the day – the grand finale of the marvellous Sitting With Jane event as 22 of the bookbenches are auctioned to raise funds for a much-needed cancer treatment centre.

A ‘Wild in Art’ event, delivered by Destination Basingstoke and in association with Festival Place, thousands of people enjoyed going around the Sitting With Jane bookbench trail between June 17 and August 30, and the popularity of the bookbenches has been reflected in demand for tickets to the auction.

Tonight, 22 bookbench lots will be up for grabs at the auction and 75 per cent of the proceeds raised will go to Ark Cancer Centre Charity – leaving a lasting legacy that will help and support cancer patients and their families as Ark is raising £5million towards a unique local NHS cancer treatment centre.

The auction is taking place at The Ark Conference Centre, in Basingstoke. It is being organised by well-known fine art auctioneers and valuers Andrew Smith & Son, from Itchen Stoke, near Winchester.

Auction ticket holders and registered online and telephone bidders will be able to put in their bids, and the first lot will be up for sale shortly after 7.30pm.

The Typeface Group team will be livestreaming the auction on facebook and there will regular updates on twitter too.

Merv Rees, Ark Cancer Centre Charity trustee, said: “Sitting With Jane has attracted a great deal of attention locally, nationally and internationally – and now the charity auction is set to provide a fitting final chapter to this wonderful event.

“Hopefully, each of the bookbenches will raise several thousand pounds, which will make a significant difference to Ark’s campaign to help fund the new cancer treatment centre.

“If a business or individual donor wants to support Ark, leave a lasting legacy, and own a unique piece of Jane Austen 200 history, then buying a bookbench is a great way to achieve all of these goals."

Merv added: "Ark is proud to be the Sitting With Jane charity partner. Thanks to Destination Basingstoke and Wild in Art for delivering this great bookbench trail, to all the sponsors and artists who have been at the heart of the project, and to Andrew Smith and Son and everyone involved in the auction.

"Everyone is now looking forward to seeing how much the bookbenches raise for Ark, and I am sure that it will be an enjoyable and successful evening."

Picture slideshow: The Golden Peacock by Sian Storey will be one of 22 bookbenches that are up for auction