The story behind Ed Sheeran charity auction

John Sheeran, Gina Long, Patzi Shepperson OBE and Imogen Sheeran with some of the lots in the Ed She

John Sheeran, Gina Long, Patzi Shepperson OBE and Imogen Sheeran with some of the lots in the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction. Picture: Olivia Churchill - Credit: Archant

Ed Sheeran’s father, John, talks about what inspired the star-studded fundraising event.

From highly collectible music and film memorabilia to original artworks and unique experiences, reading the catalogue of the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction is like flicking through a who’s who of the worlds of music, film, art and sport.

The auction, which is raising funds for Suffolk charities, features more than 220 extraordinary lots, which include personal items and experiences donated by artists and legends including Snow Patrol, Pink Floyd, Sir Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Passenger, Brian Eno, Richard Curtis, Damien Hirst, David Walliams, Bill Wyman, Shane Warne, Ben Stokes, David Beckham, Usain Bolt and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, to name but a few.

It also includes priceless Ed Sheeran items such as the handwritten lyrics to his hit song Perfect, a signed poster and ticket to his very first gig, a collection of Ed’s childhood Lego bricks and a You Need Me EP 2009, handmade by Ed.

The auction is a collaboration between Suffolk fundraiser and founder of the charity GeeWizz, Gina Long, and Ed’s parents, John and Imogen Sheeran.

It will support the redevelopment of a playground at Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy in Ipswich, for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Zest project, run by St Elizabeth Hospice supporting young adults aged 14 and upwards who have progressive and incurable illness, and Gina’s GeeWizz charity, which supports East Anglian families living with cancer or a disability, will also benefit.

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Here, in an article reproduced by kind permission from the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction catalogue, John Sheeran explains how the journey began.

My wife Imogen and I moved from Yorkshire to Suffolk with our young boys, Matthew and Edward (Ed) in 1995. Since then, as a family, we have benefited hugely from all that the county has to offer. Ed recently described the essence of Suffolk to him, “Suffolk means so much to me, I love walking in the countryside, the open skies, the light, the coast, fish and chips on the beach, or a pint of local beer in an ancient pub.”

So we were very pleased when Ed decided to end his record-breaking Divide world tour in summer 2019 in Suffolk, in our county town of Ipswich. It was like coming full circle. Ipswich was where he played some of his very first gigs as a teenager. The four evenings in Chantry Park were the most wonderful homecoming for Ed. The deafening welcome from tens of thousands each night was extraordinary to experience.

To coincide with the gigs, I helped Ipswich Borough Council to organise an art exhibition called Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich. It celebrated Ed’s early years and career in Suffolk, and his later achievements. We felt it was going to be popular with people from our region but were surprised and delighted that people from all over the world came to see it too. For some, it was their first visit to Britain. They went on the look around Ipswich, and visit other parts of Suffolk, including Framlingham, where Ed grew up.

The exhibition was due to close in May 2020. Imogen and I wanted to create a lasting legacy for the exhibition for young people in Suffolk. We met up with Gina Long of the remarkable Suffolk charity GeeWizz, which provides much-needed facilities for severely disabled children and teenagers. Gina is a very special person whose heart and empathy for others drives everything she does. She is an inspiration. We developed the idea of an auction of exceptional items and experiences to be held at the end of the exhibition. The project had to be put on hold with the national lockdown caused by the Covid-19 virus emergency; but we continued to work on it, convinced it must happen one day. We are so thankful that it can now go ahead.

We started the ball rolling by asking Ed whether he would donate to the auction, preferably something personal. We were thrilled when he gave us the handwritten lyrics for his 2017 global hit Perfect (Lot 100). I don’t think you could get anything more personal from him. The words are such a beautiful expression of his love for his Suffolk girlfriend Cherry, whom he married last year. Of course, the song is hugely popular and appeals directly to lovers worldwide. It has so far amassed over 2.5 billion views on YouTube and 1.4 billion streams on Spotify.

Ed’s brother Matthew has also given us a unique item, a specially produced facsimile of his handwritten orchestral score for the classical version of Perfect, signed by both him and Ed (Lot 80). Known as Perfect Symphony, it was recorded with an orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, London. Ed later released it as a duet with Andrea Bocelli. Witnessing our two sons at Abbey Road working together on Perfect Symphony was one of the proudest moments of our lives. It was also the first time Ed had sung live with an orchestra, and in one take. Such a special day.

Imogen and I have tapped our collection of Ed memorabilia to donate various items to the auction. Our favourite is a signed and framed ticket and handbill for Ed’s first ever public gig when he was 14 (Lot 1). We hired a hall in Framlingham for £20 and sold tickets for £3 each. Around 30 people turned up, mostly his friends, their parents and members of the church choir. We printed about 100 tickets and threw most of the unused ones away – but crucially we kept a few. By comparison, with that first gig to a few locals, it’s amazing to think of Ed playing to 8.9 million people during his last world tour.

Ed has also given one of his colourful abstract paintings for the auction (Last Lot). As the Ipswich exhibition showed, he has been creating art since he was a child. The energetic, expressive painting is such a positive affirmation of life. It’s like a visual equivalent of one of his upbeat songs.

Imogen and I have called upon the generosity of many people for this charity auction. They include good friends of Ed from the worlds of music, art, film, TV and sport, many of whom we have got to know well. We are immensely grateful to all of them for donating often rare and personal items. Auction lots have been sent to us from around the world, from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.

Gina and her fantastic team have done wonders to secure the support of so many people and businesses from our region and beyond. They have been so generous in donating lots, their skills and expertise and their time. One hundred per cent of the proceeds of the auction will go straight to GeeWizz and Zest, both local charities, to meet specific needs. Ed has been a supporter of Zest teenage hospice care from the beginning.

So a huge thank you from us both to everyone who has organised, supported and donated to the auction. We cannot think of a better legacy for the exhibition to leave.

How to bid

The auction is hosted by online auction site, in partnership with auction house Lacy Scott & Knight, both of which have foregone their selling commission.

For further information, including a full list of auction lots, to register to bid until November 8 or to donate an auction lot (up until November 1), visit and follow on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for regular updates. #SuffolkLegacy