A beautiful scene in the Derbyshire village of Castleton will be the exclusive 2023 Christmas card design from an award-winning Sheffield artist for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

For the past nine years Margaret Ellis has lovingly crafted watercolour designs for Bluebell Wood’s exclusive Christmas card range, raising thousands of pounds for the charity.

This year’s festive original shows the main street through Castleton in the evening, illuminated by shop windows and Christmas tree lights. Margaret’s latest watercolour joins her previous designs which beautifully depict local landmarks and areas including the Peace Gardens, Chatsworth House and the Botanical Gardens

Margaret’s work is often seen in many local galleries, including most recently at an exhibition in Castleton, where the original painting was displayed.

Margaret said, “I enjoy painting views of Castleton as it’s a very attractive village. It is especially beautiful at Christmas when the main street through the village looks like a fairyland after dark. All the lighted shop windows and the decorations and illuminations make it quite magical.” 

This painting also has very special significance for Margaret as she has dedicated it in memory of her dear cat Billy:

“I added the little cat to the painting last of all. When I had finished the painting, I felt that the bottom right-hand corner of the picture looked a bit empty and needed something small there. My own darling little cat Billy was in my studio with me at the time, keeping me company and playing with some of his cat toys on floor. That gave me the idea to fill the empty place in the painting with a cat, so I used Billy as my model and sketched him while he was playing. Then I used my sketch to paint a cat in the picture and provide the finishing touch to the painting.” 

“Sadly, Billy died suddenly and unexpectedly less than a week later. He hadn’t been ill and was only ten years old. The vet said it was probably a stroke or a heart attack. I was heartbroken and I still miss him so very much, but for me, this painting is now very special because it is in memory of my cat Billy.”

Margaret has enjoyed a long and varied career teaching art in local schools and colleges. For some years after retirement, she taught watercolour painting to classes of eager local amateurs from her purpose-built studio in Ecclesall. Now she gives private drawing and painting lessons on request. Thousands of the artist’s Christmas cards have been sold since she started working her magic for Bluebell Wood.

“I am delighted to help Bluebell Wood for the ninth year running and I hope to make it ten,” she added.

“It’s a real pleasure working with such a vital local charity, and the fact that my work helps to raise funds makes it even more worthwhile.

“It’s also a lovely thought to know so many people across the region will have a piece of my work on display at Christmas.”

Margaret’s latest design can be found on Bluebell Wood’s online shop alongside a fantastic range of Christmas cards, gifts and stocking fillers. 

Heidi Hawkins, CEO of Bluebell Wood, said: “Margaret’s stunning and timeless paintings are always firm favourites among our supporters, and we are honoured to have this exclusive design with such a special dedication to her cat Billy.

“Every card we sell will help us be there for local children and families this Christmas so not only will you be getting a timeless piece to send to a loved one or keep for yourself, you’ll also be making a real difference to those going through the toughest of times.”

Shop Bluebell Wood's Christmas cards and gifts here