A Wiltshire woman has donated £3,500 to the Chelsea Pensioners after winning an auction for a stunning WWI inspired firebowl.
Susan Taylor, of Marten, Marlborough, will help provide a home, friendship and care for 300 veteran soldiers after she placed the winning bid for the Flanders Field firebowl at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
The firebowl was the creation of Suffolk family man and duck farmer Andy Gage, who started The Firepit Company after deciding to have a go at making a firepit for his garden. The resulting Fireball – part patio heater, part work of art – took this year’s Chelsea Flower Show by storm, with Andy raking in £50,000 of orders while his new invention became a finalist for the Chelsea Garden Product of the Year.
The special World War I inspired bowl, another of Andy’s creations, also attracted attention at the show and was auctioned off in aid of veteran soldiers The Chelsea Pensioners.
The winning bid for the ‘In Flanders Field’ firebowl, named after the poem by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, was £3,500, and was made by Mrs Taylor, who said she had never seen anything like the stunning firebowl before and that it fitted in perfectly with her lifestyle and family connections.
“I go to Chelsea Flower Show every year and I always buy something for the garden and for my husband. It was the first time I had seen the fireballs and bowls. I had not seen anything like that before, I am really impressed with his work,” she said.
“I was initially just drawn to the beautiful artwork but the thing that made me make the bid is that my husband is very keen on World War One poets and poetry in general. He used to write poetry and was once invited to The Sorbonne.
“He is military minded and was in the RAF in the early 50s as a jet pilot and we do a lot for military charities, including Chelsea Pensioners and Help for Heroes so it all just fitted. It really spoke for itself, for our particular lifestyle and our connections. I would have been disappointed if I had not won it.”
Mrs Taylor said the fireball is now in pride of place near her barbecue so they can enjoy it with friends, although it has yet to be lit.
“It does look splendid. We have got it in front of a pergola where we sit and there are roses either side. I haven’t lit it yet but we are holding a supper party in a few weeks as I think it needs to be a bit darker to get the most impact out of it.”
Andy said he enjoyed being able to personally deliver the firebowl and to see it in situ in Mrs Taylor’s well tended gardens.
“I am so chuffed that something I have created can at the same time have its own meaning for someone else,” he said.
“It’s lovely that it can now take pride of place in Mrs Taylor’s garden, while at the same time we are able to give the great sum of £3,500 to Chelsea Pensioners.”
Katie Kennedy, of the Royal Chelsea Hospital was delighted with the generous donation, which she said “would be used to help Royal Hospital Chelsea to provide a home, comradeship and the very best care for around 300 Chelsea Pensioners to whom the nation owes a debt of gratitude”.
Andy’s designs have so far incorporated woodland, animals and in some cases even dragons and fairies. He takes inspiration from his farm and the land around him, as well as creating bespoke balls for customers. Each one is an intricately designed work of art, whilst also remaining a practical garden sculpture for warming up cold evenings or illuminating with electric lights.
The fireball was a finalist in the Chelsea Flower Show Garden Product of the Year and attracted celebrity attention from Dragon Deborah Meaden, actor Ross Kemp and even HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
For more information or to discuss a bespoke fireball or firebowl visit www.thefirepitcompany.co.uk