It’s an exciting new chapter for Longridge Gallery as the successful family business passes to the next generation, writes Sarah Varley. Photography: Kirsten Platt

Longridge Gallery was launched in 1985 and has built an enviable reputation for bringing highly collectable artwork from the country’s most respected artists to the Ribble Valley. Since October 2000 it has been owned by Alistair Sheret and now after 21 years, Alistair and wife Caroline are handing over the reins to Caroline’s son Nick Smith, supported by his fiancée Sophie Hart.

“Nick will be taking over in June and it is a really exciting time for the gallery. Since 1985, the gallery has only had two owners and has an enviable track record of providing a great service to the people of the Ribble Valley,” says Alistair. “We’re delighted to see Nick and Sophie returning to their roots and building the business. It’s great to see two young professionals coming home to the Ribble Valley with all their enthusiasm and plans for both the gallery and life within the Longridge community.”

Nick explains: “Sophie and I met at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School 21 years ago, so we really have come full circle.”

After attending school and sixth form together, Nick went to Leeds University to study Business and Financial Economics, and Sophie went to Loughborough to study Sport Science before qualifying as a PE teacher. Nick went on to play rugby and work in Hong Kong for 18 months and then in recruitment in Manchester for eight years, while Sophie worked as a teacher in Lancashire as well as spending two years working in Australia. They always kept in touch wherever they were in the world and became a couple four years ago. They should have been getting married this year but due to the pandemic they are now looking forward to their wedding in 2022.

“We are very excited about returning for the next chapter of our lives in the Ribble Valley,” says Nick. “We’re looking to move to Longridge as it will be ideal for the gallery and we are very keen to immerse ourselves in the community.” Sophie will continue to work as a teacher where she has more recently focused on alternative provision and working with young people with special educational needs when the couple return to the Ribble Valley.

“I have been doing lots of industry training during lockdown and learning the business from Alistair. We will be keeping the essence of the gallery the same, maintaining the excellent customer service, high quality art framing and showcasing outstanding artists. We are looking at different areas of the business on which we can build, such as utilising new technology and social media. We will have a lot of the same fantastic artists as before and we are also excited to be bringing in some new artists that we think our customers will love. We have just launched collections from Kimberley Harris, Pietro Grilo and the Ribble Valley’s own Anthony Platt and we have more coming soon.”

Longridge Gallery has always been involved in supporting events in the town, particularly its founding role in Create Longridge in 2016. Supporting other businesses and community organisations is going to remain a key part of what the gallery does.

Longridge Gallery regularly exhibits pieces from acclaimed artists including Kerry Darlington, Doug Hyde, Leigh Lambert, Steven Townsend, Sherree Valentine Daines, Barry Hilton, Fabian Perez and Rozanne Bell. You will also find work from some of the best local artists such as Geoff Rollinson, Steve Rostron and Ricky Young. Original paintings and signed limited edition prints are available in a range of styles, media and prices. An in-house framing and restoration service is also available, using the finest materials for paintings, photographs, canvas stretching, needlework, tapestries, sports shirts and other memorabilia.

Alistair and Caroline will still be based in the Ribble Valley and will be on hand to help as Nick throws himself into running and building the business.

“We’re looking forward to seeing Nick and Sophie continue to grow the gallery and shape it in their own image. Over 21 years we have received amazing support from our customers and friends in the business community and we’re incredibly grateful for that,” says Alistair. “Longridge is a great community with a lot to offer. It has many unique, owner-operated shops and businesses, making it really different to your average high street and a wonderful place to visit and work. It is fantastic to see that there is also quite a large number of businesses in Longridge being run by young people like Nick and Sophie, and that bodes really well for the future of the town.”

Longridge Gallery
78 Berry Lane, Longridge, Preston PR3 3WH
01772 782006



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