An artist was so shocked when told she had won a national competition that she thought the phone call was fake.
Lori North took up art after retiring at the age of 60, five years ago, and picked up her prize at the House of Lords after coming first with her acrylic still life painting.
She said:“I’m still getting over the shock. I thought the caller was someone trying to sell me a holiday in Spain!”
With her husband Andrew, Mrs North used to run The Black Horse in Dunsmore and then Time Fashion ladies and menswear shop in Wendover.
But after retiring she was determined to fulfil her lifelong dream. “I’ve always wanted to paint, but I never had the time before,” she explained. “When I retired I thought, ‘it’s now or never’.
“I’m just learning everything I can. I’m still trying to find my style, I’d like to be looser and more abstract, but my winning entry is more classical.”
Mrs North’s teacher suggested she should enter The EAC Art Awards, which is run by the Elderly Accommodation Council, a body that encourages older people to carry on with their lives when they stop working.
Mrs North entered Dahlias and Apples and has won £125 as well as her trip to the House of Lords, where a pdf file of her picture, along with winners from the other categories, will be displayed on a big screen.
“Just the fact that I’ve won something is my prize,” she said. “It gives incredible satisfaction, I didn’t think I could feel so excited about winning something. I’m really chuffed.”
She started the 16 x 20 inch painting at an art class in Kimble last summer and finished it off at home. And it will now have pride of place in her home in Dunsmore. “I can’t part with it now,” she said. “I’ll have to look at it to give me inspiration to do another masterpiece! I’ll definitely enter again.”
Mrs North attends a weekly art class at Dunsmore village hall every Wednesday during term time.