It was a bittersweet occasion last night at Red Hill Gallery as we said goodbye to long term staff member, the irreplaceable Hilary O'Donnell. The champagne flowed, as did the tears as we fare-welled Hilary with a large crowd of well wishers filling the gallery. We were entertained by the wonderfully talented Craig Claxton and Caroline Hammond, live music filling the air and adding ambience to the evening.
Hilary has been an integral part of our gallery for many years and has a special way of being. She is classy and gentle and a little bit cheeky! A great mix for clients who trust her, the artists who connect to her and the staff who love and respect her. She will be missed.
Emotions ran high during the speeches and it was very clear that our Directors Graham and Margaret Campbell-Ryder truly understand what a prize they had in Hilary. Jan made a speech on behalf of the "Gallery Girls" and made us proud! She said what we all felt and not a dry eye was to be seen.
And then finally we heard from Hilary. She was truly overcome by the show of love from the room. Her husband and son were there to support her in her very special night.
A farewell book, beautifully put together with best wishes from guests unable to attend, was placed on the back bench to collect more messages for Hilary from attendees.
Some of our fantastic artists created special gifts, and they were presented to a very delighted Hilary to remember her years with us at Red Hill Gallery. Among them a painting of the interior of an art gallery, a woman, looking suspiciously like Hilary, with gorgeous pearl earrings on, studying beautiful artwork on the gallery wall. A note to Hilary on the back cements the fact that it has truly been created with Hils in mind. A simple and sweet painting of a rose, by an artist who has never painted a flower and is much more at home with the Tall Ships and the Old England as his subject. "A rose for a rose" written on the back, a simple ode to Hilary...and yes, there is a bucket within the scene of the painting.. Another to emerge from a flurry of wrapping paper and ribbon, was bright and happy array of flowers from an artist whose work brings colour and energy into many of our clients homes. Among the gifts, a gorgeous piece of glass, organic in shape and soft of colour, from our foremost glass artist, to show appreciation for the years of dedication shown by Hilary in her time with us. So many more gifts and positive support from well wishers assured Hilary had an evening she will remember each time she passes by a little piece of Red Hill Gallery in her home.
We wish Hilary well in her new lifestyle and hope to see her smiling face in our Gallery often!