Patricia (Tricia) Donovan (née Benton) passed away on December 21.
She will be well remembered as a long term Ben Lomond resident and a fine arts and antiques valuer known to many throughout the New England and Hunter regions and beyond.
Tricia and her husband Chris moved to Ben Lomond in 1982 after several years' of Chris' army postings in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Though she later trained in fine arts, her first career was in childhood learning and development. Having graduated from Tresillian as a Registered Mothercraft nurse, she was passionate about ensuring all children had access to early education.
Over this first career she managed childcare centres, including at Papua New Guinea's University of Technology, and Liverpool Before and After School Care. In the late 1980s, she was instrumental in reopening and ensuring the continuation of the Guyra Preschool and Long Daycare Centre at its former location at St Mary's Catholic School.
In 1992, Tricia gained qualifications in 18th and 19th century decorative arts and furniture, and joined renowned Australian auction house James R Lawson as its New England representative.
She continued in this role for over a decade before launching her own business, building strong relationships with international auction houses like Bonhams of London, as well as local firms
Reflecting her passion for her work, Tricia later trained with Christies of London, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. She was a member of both the Auctioneers and Valuers Association of Australia and the National Council of Jewellery Valuers. Over the course of her fine arts career, she regularly participated in fundraising events and held one off antiques valuation days - a local Antiques Roadshow perhaps.
In the early 2000s, Tricia organised a series of events, Moving Art, for local artists. She exhibited their works in regional centres before they were auctioned with proceeds going mostly to the Children's Medical Research Institute, with some also to the New England Regional Art Museum.
These events, fittingly, brought together her two careers.
In private life, Tricia was a keen gardener and took great pride in establishing from scratch a large garden at her Ben Lomond home. She actively supported her husband, Colonel Chris Donovan, in his roles as Commanding Officer and later Honorary Colonel of the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers.
Tricia's beloved husband passed away in 2017. She is survived by her son Mark, Ambassador of Australia to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
A funeral service was held on January 4 at The Armidale School and will be followed by an interment at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Stratfield Saye, Hampshire at a later date.
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