Fine art and fine wine
PUBLISHED: 09:53 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 15:38 20 February 2013
Michael Willson, owner of Willow Galleries in Halstead
Where do you live?
I was born in Rochford and raised in Westcliff on Sea. I moved to Sible Hedingham nine years ago and currently live in Braintree where I have been for the past two years.
Tell us about your family.
I have been married to Tina for 12 years and we have two sons; Thomas, aged seven, and Luke, two, all of whom I am very proud of.
What do you like about where you live?
Having enjoyed the rural setting and close, friendly community of Hedingham
we were unsure if we could replicate what we had anywhere else. Luckily there are areas of open space where we now live and we have very good neighbours.
What do you do for a living?
I worked in the City for 22 years as a placing broker in the Lloyd's insurance market and quite frankly got tired of the daily drudge of commuting and the doom and gloom that was taking over the City. So for the last nine months I have been setting up, and am just about to open, an art gallery in Bridge Street, Halstead, selling limited edition prints, original paintings and sculpture from some of the country's leading contemporary artists.
What do you love about your job?
Sharing the enthusiasm and passion I have for art.
What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
Having the guts to give up my career in the City and start this new venture and dealing with the many unforeseen problems I encountered in setting the gallery up.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Hopefully running a number of
What are your hobbies?
Collecting art and gardening.
How do you relax?
A day at the races, dining out, spending time in France, gardening and enjoying the company of my friends and family at home with good food and a glass of fine wine - or three.
Which five guests would you invite to a dinner party and why?
Peter Ustinov for his great intellectual wit and Dean Martin because I would love to know what really went on within the Rat Pack. I'd ask Lester Piggot, simply the greatest jockey there has ever been, and Michael Caine who is sure to have lots of interesting tales to tell. Finally, Lee Evens, because his physical and observational humour always make me laugh.
What is your favourite song or piece of music and why?
I don't have a favourite song, just anything sung by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra or Michael Buble. They have the most fantastic voices.
Where are the best views to be had in Essex?
For me it's sitting in my back garden on a summer evening watching the hot air balloons passing overhead as they either take off or land in nearby Notley Country Park.
Describe Essex in one sentence.
A county with many unspoilt areas of natural beauty that is unfairly maligned by a lot of people who haven't even bothered to visit it.
What is your favourite town in Essex and why?
I really enjoy Halstead. It is a typical market town with a wide variety of independent traders complemented by the colourful floral displays all year round.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
My family...and the Aston Martin I hope one day to own.