A CHURCH had an unexpected windfall after a donated picture found among a pile of toys turned out to be worth more than £1,000.
The painting, Velocity 11 by popular artist Claire Burbridge, was given to St John’s church along with a football table and some soft toys by marketing specialists dunnhumby, of Uxbridge Road, Ealing.
Church youth worker Tom Callister was planning to use the frame for a poster or take it to a car boot sale, before discovering he had an original piece of work valued at £1,250.
The church, based in Mattock Lane, Ealing, now plans to auction the painting to raise funds for its youth projects.
Tom said the members were stunned when they realised what a treasure they had been given.
He said: “We were approached by dunnhumby after the riots – they said they knew we did some youth and community work and did we want a football table and some toys. We went to have a look and there was a few old pictures among them and they said we could take them too.
“I took one thinking I might use the frame for a poster. It sat in my office and I was about to take it to a car boot sale when I thought I had better check it wasn’t valuable. I did some research and discovered it was an original Claire Burbridge.
“When I rang the Mayfair gallery which specialises in her work they said it was worth £1,250, but they were more interested in her sculpture, for which she is more well known.
“I am so glad I checked. As it had significant value I went back to dunnhumby because it felt inappropriate to sneak off and sell it without telling them.”
Erin Allgrove, dunnhumby's marketing director, Tesco markets, said they discovered the picture had belonged to a former chief executive, Edwinna Dunn, who said the church was welcome to keep it and use it for community youth work.
Tom said he would ask the gallery for help in approaching Burbridge lovers or, failing that, hold a local auction.
He is considering spending the proceeds on an annual one-day festival the church runs for teens.
He said: “We are incredibly grateful for the donation and re-releasing the painting when they could have kept it when we realised there was some value.”
Erin said: “Something unwanted has turned into a piece of treasure in the basement rather than cash in the attic. We are delighted to help the local community.”