Live updates

Struggling community group's £2000 surprise from famous artist

The Willow Tree Group could not believe what they received in the post. Credit: Grayson Perry

A Dorset mental health support group that had its funding cut has had a nice surprise in the post from Grayson Perry - worth several thousand pounds.

Barrie Smith from the Blandford-based Willow Tree Group wrote to the famous artist, whose works are exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, and was astonished when he sent back a specially drawn sketch they could auction.

The ink-and-pencil drawing on A4 paper appears to represent a troubled mind, and came via special delivery with a post-it from the artist.

This Grayson Perry original was drawn specially for the group. Credit: Grayson Perry

Mr Smith said the group, which has been meeting for 25 years, had to raise £7,000 a year to keep going. He had written 120 letters to people and businesses and reached Perry through the Saatchi Gallery.

I had seen Grayson Perry on the news and on the TV and he seemed a sympathetic and caring person who might help ... It is a hugely generous donation.

– Barrie Smith, the Willow Tree Group

The sketch will be auctioned at Duke's of Dorchester on April 16th, together with the original jiffy bag it arrived in and the post-it note.

The sketch is extremely powerful and typifies Grayson’s use of contemporary and controversial themes, often with an autobiographical theme ... We are delighted to be able to sell this work and have waived our usual premiums so the group gets as much as possible.

– Amy Brenan, Duke's