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People standing by sculpture

The amazing work of NHS staff, key workers and the selfless way volunteers came together during the coronavirus pandemic have been recognised at one of Swindon’s most popular country parks.

The day after the third anniversary of the nation’s first COVID-19 lockdown, a special sculpture was unveiled to celebrate how Swindon rallied round to protect the most vulnerable members of the community as the virus gripped the country.

The sculpture, which is located outside Lydiard Park’s 18th Century Walled Garden, was the idea of Swindon Borough Council’s Grounds Supervisor Martin Mansfield who was also behind the garden of reflection, which opened in Coate Water country park last year.

Martin and his team have created a similarly peaceful haven just outside the entrance to the Walled Garden at Lydiard where people can pause and remember loved ones, but also reflect on the way people went above and beyond through the various lockdowns.

The core of the stainless steel sculpture, which was designed by local artist Mike Pringle, was unveiled this morning (24 March) and features a circle of eight different figures, including a pregnant female figure, and two spirals representing the DNA double helix, collectively celebrating life.

The steel elements are mounted on a callow sandstone column chosen for its beautiful reddish colour, inspired by red stones in the walls of the church at Lydiard. It also contrasts against the yellow sandstone on the Lydiard site and the stainless steel of the sculpture itself.

Mike was assisted by David Wilkins of Swindon-based Wiltshire Stone Carving, and Darren Carter of R and P Engineering at Ashbury.

Councillor Matty Courtliff, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Heritage, Leisure and Town Centre Experience, said: “I must pay tribute to Martin and his team for creating this fitting tribute. It will serve as a lasting reminder of the way NHS colleagues, partner agencies and the voluntary sector joined together to help our most vulnerable residents when they needed it most.

“Mike has done an incredible job with the sculpture itself and I really hope visitors to Lydiard enjoy the peaceful space in this most quiet and beautiful of settings.”

Martin Mansfield, said: “It was an honour to work on this project with my colleagues in the Grounds team and we were very fortunate to have Mike’s help in designing a modern memorial which is in keeping with the historic backdrop of the Walled Garden.

“I hope it becomes a quiet place where people can be at one with their thoughts to not only remember loved ones they may have lost during the pandemic, but also a place where they can reflect on the way the Swindon community supported those who needed help during a particularly difficult period.”