Hartlepool man to pay tribute to late wife in art exhibition across two sites in town

A two-month tribute to the talents of a late Hartlepool artist will be paid by her proud family.

Friday, 29th April 2022, 4:45 am

The work of Gillian Holbrook will go on show at two venues in the town with half of Gillian’s art on display at Summerhill and the other half simultaneously on show at the Central Community Hub in York Road.

The exhibition of paintings will be held throughout all of July and August this year and then the work will swap venues at the end of July.

Gillian, 60, who was a volunteer with Alice House Hospice, tragically died unexpectedly on November 26 last year.

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Phil Holbrook who has organised an exhibition of the artwork of his late wife Gillian, left. Also pictured is his first wife Sally who died in a car crash in 2012.

She was also a staunch supporter of husband Phil Holbrook’s charity #TeamSally, which he started after the tragic death of his first wife in a car accident just before Christmas nine years ago.

He said: “The whole event will be a fundraising opportunity for #TeamHolbrook, which has so far raised over £52,000 for Alice House Hospice since 2014.”

Copies of Gillian’s work are also planned to be available for sale in prints, calendars and cards with the money going to the fundraising total.

Phil Holbrook with paintings by his late wife Gillian. Picture by FRANK REID.

Phil added: “After Gillian died in November, her daughter was looking through some of her mam’s artwork. Gillian was a very modest person who would not seek publicity, but we both felt that her work deserved to be seen by more than just immediate family.

"I shared our thoughts with Councillor Rachel Creevy, who kindly arranged for me to meet staff from Summerhill and the Central Community Hub in York Road. The result will be a two month exhibition in July and August, in aid of Alice House Hospice.

"Sarah and I are extremely proud, and looking forward to seeing Gillian’s work, properly displayed for others to see.”

Gillian Holbrook died unexpectedly last November.

Phil suffered 30 broken bones, including a shattered pelvis, 20 broken ribs, breaks to his pelvis, and spine in the accident.

Despite suffering irreparable nerve damage and having to learn to walk again, Phil launched Team Sally Holbrook in 2014 when he and supporters started taking part in the Great North Run and other sponsored events for Alice House Hospice.

Phil credited Gillian as the driving force behind many of his recent ideas and events and told the Mail previously that she was ‘always very determined to get

things done.”

Phil Holbrook's first wife Sally who died in a car crash in 2012.

#TeamHolbrook is a Hartlepool initiative which loves to welcome people who would like to support their fundraising.

Phil said: “Over the years, we have encouraged people to be involved in, or support challenges, and they have always been considered members of the team. Many have either organised or participated in events, or made suggestions for future activities.

"#TeamHolbrook will continue to provide new opportunities for people to fundraise, as well as repeat old favourites.”

The exhibition of Gillian’s work is just one in a series of #TeamHolbrook events which are being held this year. Others include quizzes and fundraising runs and Phil explained more.

Phil, who is from the Fens area, is currently doing a virtual running challenge by completing the equivalent of 2,280 miles which is the length of America’s Route 66.

It sees him log his progress on an app and he said: “I started in November 2020 and having passed through Illinois, Missouri and Kansas states, I am now just past Oklahoma City, having completed 920 miles of the route.”

Gillian's artistic talent will be available to view in Hartlepool.

That is around 40 per cent of his virtual journey which he has completed so far.

There is much more to look forward to as well. Other upcoming events include:

* Regular Monthly Wednesday night quizzes in the Hops and Cheese and Ward Jackson pubs;

* In May, #TeamHolbrook will have entries in the Windermere Marathon run;

* On June 23, the annual Summer #TeamHolbrook Memorial 5k will be held around Hartlepool’s Headland;

* In July and August, Gillian’s art exhibition will take place;

* And in September #TeamHolbrook will once again have a team which enters the Great North Run.

Phil previously told the Hartlepool Mail: “It costs over £5,000 a day to run the hospice. It’s a very worthwhile charity and we do our little bit to try to improve a lot of the people who work and live there.”

He is no stranger to giving outstanding support to the hospice.

In 2020 during the pandemic, he signed up for the virtual Great North Run and clocked up the 13.1 miles by jogging around the Fens, Owton Manor and Rossmere areas of town in three hours and four minutes.

He did the run as part of his 12 fundraisers in 12 months to mark him turning 60 in September that year.

In November last year, he had all of his hair shaved off to raise money for both Alice House Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support.

His kindness also reached another continent when his hair was sent to an American charity, called Children With Hair Loss, which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair through illness.

But now his attention is focused on ensuring the exhibition of Gillian’s work is an outstanding success.

People can support the team’s excellent fundraising for Alice House Hospice by visiting bit.ly/38nQfpt

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A painting by Gillian Holbrook. Picture by FRANK REID.
Another of Gillian Holbrook's paintings. Picture by FRANK REID.
Gillian's artwork will be available to view in two Hartlepool venues this summer.
The artwork of Gillian Holbrook which will go on show in Hartlepool.
Another of Gillian's paintings.