Southwold painting saved for town by charity
- Credit: Nick Butcher
He is a familiar figure to residents and tourists alike at a seaside town.
And now the community of Southwold has rallied to ensure a portrait immortalising the town's retiring bellman, John Barber, will remain available for all to enjoy.
Local charity, the Southwold Millennium Foundation(SMF), paid £1,500 for the painting by acclaimed portrait artist – Kate Felton, amid fears the painting could be lost to an out of town buyer.
SMF chairman, Michael Ladd, said: 'The foundation was pleased to be able to purchase the painting on behalf of the community as there was quite a lot of interest from further afield and there was fear it could be lost from the town.'
He added: 'John is coming to the end of his 40 years as town crier. He is an old Southwold character and I don't think we will see the likes of him again.
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'The painting has a very good likeliness and we wanted to make certain it remained in the community.'
As a result, Mr Ladd explained, the Southwold Millennium Foundation is now seeking donations from the public in order to assist in paying the cost to purchase the portrait.
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After four decades of service 90-year-old Mr Barber is set to don his traditional town crier's uniform for the final time as he retires from the role in March this year.
Born on September 11, 1926, in Southwold, his life has seen him serve in the Irish Guards, meet members of the Royal family, write a book and become an honorary citizen of Texas.
Mr Barber said: 'I am honoured they wanted to raise the money to buy this painting for the town.
'The detail is remarkable - you can almost read what is written on my medals!
'My first thought when I saw it was 'that's a photograph, it can't possibly be a painting'.'
The oil on linen picture will go on display at Buckenham Galleries, in Southwold, on February 18.
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Do you have a Southwold story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01502 525832.