Dame Kelly Holmes statue to be centrepiece of transformed flower bed in Tonbridge
PUBLISHED: 10:33 29 September 2017
The double Olympic gold medallist lives and owns a cafe in Hildenborough
A statue of Kent’s double Olympic gold medallist, Dame Kelly Holmes, is to be the centrepiece of a new scheme in Tonbridge.
The statue, made and donated by contemporary sculptor and Dragons’ Den winner Guy Portelli, will be mounted on a plinth and will commemorate the achievements of Dame Kelly, who lives and owns a cafe in Hildenborough.
It makes up part of the work led by a number of local businesses to transform a large raised flower bed on the approach from Quarry Hill Road, which will be officially opened by the athlete once completed in mid-October.
The raised planter has already been cleared of existing shrubs and weeds and the project will also incorporate the artwork of children from The Slade Primary School, Woodlands Primary School and Sussex Road Community Primary School.
The statue will be surrounded by a wildflower meadow and three small trees, which will be black, white and gold, mirroring the title of the athlete’s autobiography.
The £7,500 cost of the work has been met by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s Local Centres’ Project, which has enabled the town hall to work with traders across the borough to deliver environmental projects.
The funding was given to the council from the government’s High Street Innovation Fund.
Council leader Nicolas Heslop said: “It’s great to see local traders working together to improve an area for the benefit of local people.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to Guy Portelli for creating the statue of Dame Kelly and for his work to inspire local children to take part in the project with their artwork.
“Many thanks also to Mary Mary Creates Gardens and all the other traders for volunteering their time and expertise to make the scheme a reality. I look forward to seeing the ‘Olympic’ transformation.”
Mr Portelli added: “It’s always a pleasure to work with young people on a new art project but the enthusiasm and excellent designs of the children taking part in this particular scheme have made it one of the best yet. I just hope Dame Kelly Holmes will be pleased with the statue I have created.”
The newly renovated raised flower bed will be maintained by Kent County Council, which owns the planter.
In 2012 Dame Kelly carried the Olympic torch through Tonbridge and then brought the Commonwealth baton to the town in 2014.
She continues to do much to help the community and local schools and is an Honorary Freeman of the borough of Tonbridge and Malling.