Businessman wins award for Tour art

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A Harrogate luxury kitchen company owner has been honoured by Yorkshire Air Ambulance after raising more than £25,000 from the sale of a unique Tour de France artwork.

Stephen Gee commissioned eight, giant pop-art prints of some of cycling’s super heroes to mark the arrival of the Tour de France in Yorkshire in 2014.

After being installed on the outside of Poliform North – his Harrogate business selling luxury kitchens, bathrooms and contemporary Italian furniture – the piece was sold to South Yorkshire-based business Dransfield Properties on condition that each living cyclist depicted sign their print.

Ten months and nearly 1,800 miles later, Stephen completed the challenge with the signature of Belgian cycling icon Eddy Merckx.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance received half the £50,000 sale price.

Stephen’s generosity and determination to maximize the value of the artwork was honoured at the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) Recognition Awards where he received a Corporate Supporters Award.

Helen Callear, Yorkshire Air Ambulance Regional Fundraising Manager, said: “Our Annual Recognition Awards are a fantastic way of the Charity being able to say thank you to many of our fundraisers and supporters who have raised vital monies for us in the last year or so.

“I was delighted to be able to nominate Stephen Gee from Poliform North to thank him for his amazing work with commissioning the Tour de France canvasses and the subsequent £25,000 he donated to us.

“We are incredibly grateful to Stephen for his fundraising efforts.”

Individual volunteers, organisations and corporate supporters from across the region were recognised by the YAA during the special evening held at the Royal York Hotel and hosted by charity patron and ITV Calendar presenter Gaynor Barnes.

They included the ladies of Farm Stay Yorkshire who received a Community Supporters Award after popular recipes from Yorkshire’s farmhouse kitchens helped fuel a fund raising feast for the YAA.

Farm Stay Yorkshire – the on-farm accommodation providers - have raised over £12,000 for the rapid response emergency charity from the sale of the unique recipe book and other fund raising events.

Other award winners on the night included Sarah Beeston from the University of York Security Office.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance has received vital funds over several years after she nominated the rapid response emergency charity to receive unclaimed items from the campus.

Saleable good such as watches, even guitars and hundreds of umbrellas are sold at the charity’s Scarborough Market stall and clothes sent to the YAA’s recycling partner Bag It Up.

Sarah received a Supporters Award along with Denis and Muriel Foster who have so far raised over £12,000 for the YAA from a hugely popular, annual coffee morning at their York home and Paul Gallagher for his fundraising at Harrogate Hospital Ambulance Station.

Students from Ripon Grammar Sixth Form were also recognised after raising over £10,000 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

The teenagers launched a fundraising campaign last year after a fellow student needed the lifesaving service after being involved in a serious accident.

Brian Robinson Machinery, based at East Cowlton near Northallerton, also received a Corporate Supporters Award having raised almost £8,000 over the last six years for the YAA.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance serves 5million people across Yorkshire and carries out over 1,250 missions every year.

It needs to raise £12,000 every day and is currently replacing its two ageing aircraft with brand new, state-of-the-art Airbus H145 helicopters.

The YAA provides a life-saving rapid response emergency service 365 days a year to 5 million people across 4 million acres of Yorkshire.

The two helicopters - G-YAAC and G-CEMS - operate from Nostell Priory near Wakefield and RAF Topcliffe, near Thirsk.

Patients are transferred to the nearest major trauma centres, flying at speeds of up to 160mph.

YAA paramedics and dispatchers are seconded to us by Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

To date, over 7,000 patients have been carried to relevant treatment centres.

*Are you raising funds for Yorkshire Air Ambulance? If so, send your stories and pictures to: news@harrogateadvertiser.co.uk