Local heroes chosen by the community in Bournemouth have been immortalised in steel portraits on National Cycle Network Route 25, honouring their contributions to the communities around the town and beyond.
John 'Nonny' Garard was nominated by the community to be immortalised in steel on National Cycle Network Route 25 in Bournemouth. Credit: Sustrans
Residents across Bournemouth were invited to have their say on who they believe has made a positive impact on their local community in the last seven decades - celebrating the UK’s longest-reigning monarch.
The community chose heroes that have given back to the local community in extraordinary ways.
They selected AFC Bournemouth fan and ambassador John 'Nonny' Garard and Dr Jane Goodall DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace.
Celebrating a larger-than-life accessibility advocate
One of the portraits honours John ‘Nonny’ Garard.
Following AFC Bournemouth from a young age, Nonny was larger-than-life character, best known for leading chants of 'Red Army' both home and away.
Born deaf and with a degenerative eye condition, he used his own experience to support other members of the disabled community, working with the football club to help improve accessibility at the club.
Sadly, he was diagnosed with cancer in 2021 and passed away shortly after.
The new sculptures are part of a series of sculptures installed across the Network in recognition of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee year. Credit: Sustrans
Speaking about the portrait, Neil, John’s brother-in-law, said:
"We are thrilled and proud with the larger than life steel statue of John (Nonny), now installed in Bournemouth's Central Gardens.
“We are grateful to the Sustrans team, as well as the talented sculptors Katy and Nick, for this breath-taking statue in John's memory.
"It is both a permanent reminder of John, who was taken from us far too soon, as well as a symbol of unity and togetherness, particularly through the Cherries fan base.
“I hope John's statue will continue to bring people together. Everyone who knew him, had a story to tell, and every story ended in a smile.
“John achieved so much on improving inclusivity, working with AFC Bournemouth as well as the University of Southampton, in improving quality of life for the disabled.
"We are thrilled he will be remembered in this way."
Honouring a world-renowned ethologist and conservationist
Another portrait represents Dr Jane Goodall.
World-renowned ethologist and conservationist, she inspires greater understanding and action on behalf of the natural world.
Dr Goodall is known for her ground-breaking studies of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.
She founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977 and there are now 25 institutes around the world, including the UK.
The Institute's free Roots & Shoots programme empowers young people of all ages to become involved in projects making a difference to their local communities, animals and the environment.
Dr Jane Goodall has inspired many people in Bournemouth, and across the world, with her ground breaking work advocating for the natural world. Credit: Sustrans
Speaking about the portrait, Dr Jane Goodall said:
“I was surprised and honoured to be featured in this project.
"I first came to Bournemouth, with my mother and sister, when WW2 broke out.
"I would climb trees, and spend hours watching the squirrels, birds and insects who lived there, and with my dog Rusty exploring the Chines, and swimming in the sea.
“Bournemouth is where I come between my tours around the world raising awareness about the harm we have done to the natural world, and how important it is that we should take action to help to heal the environment before it is too late.
“I hope that those who see the portrait bench will be keen to find out more about our work at the Jane Goodall Institute UK.
"And I certainly hope to visit when I am next back in Bournemouth.”
Unveiling the portraits in their new home in Bournemouth
On Thursday 5 October 2023, the figures were unveiled at their new home on National Cycle Network Route 25 in Central Gardens, Bournemouth.
Joining representatives of Sustrans celebrating the unveiling were friends and family of the heroes, along with members of the Jane Goodall Institute UK, members of AFC football club, a local councillor and members of BCP council’s transport and parks team.
Sarah Leeming, Director for the south of England at Sustrans, said:
“We’re so pleased to see John Garard and Dr Goodall recognised for their excellent contributions in Bournemouth, and around the world.
“By celebrating the heroes of the communities around the National Cycle Network, we can help more people to feel welcome on these vital routes and provide space for them to connect with their surroundings.
“As we go about our day on foot or wheel, we can learn about and appreciate what these heroes have done for this community, spending a bit of time with them as we rest, getting ready to continue on our journey.”
Adding to hundreds of portrait benches across the nation
In total, 30 new life-sized steel figures are being installed across the nation.
They will complement the existing 250 figures which were installed as part of the ‘portrait bench’ campaign over 12 years ago.
They’ve been designed and fabricated by renowned artists Katy and Nick Hallett and funded by the Department of Transport through Sustrans’ Paths for Everyone programme to enhance the National Cycle Network.