Bench Painting a Portrait of Blyth; Fallen Guardsman and PC Honoured

The Journal (Newcastle, England), October 31, 2011 | Go to article overview

Bench Painting a Portrait of Blyth; Fallen Guardsman and PC Honoured


Byline: Sara Nichol

AN unusual piece of public art which honours three important Northumberland figures has been unveiled. The Portrait Bench features comedian Stan Laurel, PC David Rathband, who was shot and blinded by Raoul Moat, and Guardsman Michael Sweeney, who was killed in Afghanistan's Helmand Province last year.

The work was created using inspiration from Blyth and three publicly-respected people connected to the town. The artwork joined a national art collection, which is adorning the new lottery-funded Sustrans' National Cycle Network in communities across the UK.

Situated in Ridley Park, Blyth, Northumberland, alongside a section of new walking and cycling routes, the faces on the bench are thought to represent the history of the town, which PC Rathband described as a "great honour".

It was unveiled at a special ceremony yesterday which both PC Rathband and Guardsman Sweeney's mother Kim attended.

Bryn Dowson, Sustrans' regional director in the North East, said: "We're delighted to be unveiling the Portrait Bench, which will add some extra intrigue to the new routes.

"Public artwork helps to make our routes more attractive and interesting, and everyone enjoys getting out on their bikes much more when the enjoy the environment around them. …

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