A new portrait bench has been installed on Dover seafront in preparation for the official unveiling at the Port of Dover Community Regatta this Saturday (27 July). The portrait bench features three life-size steel figures of prominent local characters along with a simple bench. It is designed so that people can sit or stand in the spaces between the figures to become part of the portrait.
The three characters on Dover’s portrait bench are:
Jamie Clark (22) who was born at Buckland Hospital with two holes in his heart, coeliac disease and severe communication difficulties. His determination and inspiration came to the fore when Jamie was selected from over 120,000 applicants as the town’s first torchbearer on 18 July 2012 as part of the Olympic Torch Relay.
Dame Vera Lynn DBE has been synonymous with Dover thanks to the wartime classic song, ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’; and her portrait figure is angled so that she is overlooking those very cliffs. Dame Vera became known as the ‘Forces’ Sweetheart’ due to her popularity during World War II.
Ian Fleming the author of the James Bond series of spy novels has strong local connections with the Dover district. He lived in St Margaret’s Bay and was Captain of the Royal St George’s Golf Club in Sandwich. Many of the James Bond novels and films feature locations in the district. Ian Fleming was chosen via a public vote.
The Dover portrait bench is an art initiative from charity Sustrans, and sits alongside the new River Dour Greenway. The new walking and cycling route encourages people to make everyday journeys on foot or by bike through the green heart of the town.
The project has been supported by Kent County Council, Dover District Council, Dover Town Council, and the Dover Harbour Board.
David Young, Project Coordinator at Sustrans said: “We know that more people are likely to get around under their own steam when they find the environment around them attractive and interesting. Public artwork, such as this portrait bench, achieves just that. The characters selected by local people are going to inspire young people in the area to learn more about the district’s history, so we’re sure it’ll provide a focal point on the route.”
In a posting on Facebook, Jamie Clark said: “I am honoured and very proud to have been chosen to represent my home town in this way.”
The portrait bench will be officially unveiled by the Chairman of Dover District Council, Cllr Sue Nicholas, at the Port of Dover Community Regatta on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 11am. Jamie Clark will be attending along with his Olympic Torch.