Grandmother Anna Rains has moved home an incredible 46 times, living on boats, a converted bus, in a caravan and a haunted Cheshire farmhouse.
Her nomadic lifestyle is long gone and she is a permanent fixture at Art Fair Cheshire which she set up in 1998.
Anna was chair of the Hospice 10th Anniversary Fundraising Appeal to build the Sunflower Centre. Her team raised £300,000 and one of her ideas was to hold an Art Exhibition.
Friend Liz Taylor-Webb, mentored by L.S. Lowry, was the first artist Anna asked to exhibit.
A signed print of a painting by HRH Prince Charles fetched £3,000 at auction at that first Fair. Overall, nearly £400,000 has been donated to the Hospice.
Anna said: “I’ve moved into the background now and love talking to the artists. A new generation have taken over successfully and I’ve spent a lot of money over the years on artwork.
“With dedicated helpers, I’ve made thousands of canapes since the first exhibition. We handed out about 1,500, which flew off the plates, at the last Art Fair.”
Anna has lived locally since 1983 and still helps the biennial exhibitions.
She has seen tremendous changes and professional advancements. “I’ve always enjoyed art, especially traditional work, but I’m a better writer than an artist.”
She wrote a book entitled Will You Take the Dogs or the Diamonds? chronicling her life and family history. The title was inspired by a remark between her grandparents before a long train journey.
Anna Rains with the book about her life.
“The book is about my mad family. My mother was pretty eccentric. She sent me off with a one-way ticket to Hong Kong, waving goodbye and telling me to go and see the world. I was 19 then.
“Born in London, we moved to Wales when I was three weeks old to escape the War and moved into a remote cottage without sanitation, running water or electricity. Wishing to travel to Sussex, my parents bought a bus. I was four and we were moved on by the police because we weren’t bona fide showmen.
“Joining a funfair and a circus sorted that and we put posters up at night on other people’s properties.”
In 1969, Anna moved to California at the height of hippies and flower power. “My life hasn’t always been easy – but it has been interesting,” said Anna, who was convinced she shared one of her homes with a ghost.
Anna Rains at last year’s Art Fair.