WHEN Jo Heaven splashed out on a 99p print in a donation centre, little did she know it would later fetch more than £4,000 at auction.

The founder of Empower, which supports various projects in The Gambia, discovered the fabric creation while browsing at the Barnardo’s Clearance centre in Cavendish Square late last year.

After discovering that it was one of four prints made from a single piece of cloth by Buckinghamshire painter Ben Nicholson, Jo had it valued by Bonhams and yesterday, in Knightsbridge, it fetched £4,200 at auction.

Nicholson’s work is cited on the Tate website as the ‘quintessence of British modernism’ and is revered by collectors.

Jo said: “I was very calm at the beginning and then the numbers went up and up and up.

“My husband said there was a lot of activity on the phones and on the internet so obviously there were a lot of people who came in to bid specially.

“The others had fetched around £3,000 and the reserve was around £2,000, so I thought we might get between £2,000 and £3,000, but I just cant believe it.

“It has done so much better than I expected.

“When they announced it and I realised what had happened I just started shaking.”

The money will go into the charity’s reserves, which will enable Empower to register with the charity commission.

Jo said: “It was only the day before I discovered the piece that I was talking with another charity about needing reserves in order to be accepted by the Charity Commission.

“We’re registered with HMRC as a charity but as soon as you start receiving more than £5,000 a year in income you have to register with the Charity Commission which we were in the process of doing.

“We don’t have a reserve because all the money we raise goes straight to the projects and I didn’t know what I was going to do to be able to find the £2,000 to £3,000 that the other charity was recommending.

“It’s just so strange that 24 hours later my prayer was answered with this. And I can’t believe I quibbled over paying 99p for it.

“After the donation to Barnados and the commission to Bonhams we will have around £3,700 to go to the reserves, which is more than enough.

“I am giving 10 per cent back to Barnados and the rest to the charity I have set up. I didn’t earn this money so it seems only right to benefit others rather than gain myself.

“To some people this amount is not a life changer, but for Empower and the work we do in rural Gambia it is a massive life changer.”

The print is one of four created in 1938 on spun rayon and cotton, produced by the Edinburgh Weavers. One of the others is in the V&A Museum.

To find out more about Empower and how you can support them, search for Empower the Gambia on Facebook.