The Last Leaf – contributions kick started

Tyburn Mail - June '14 / http://tyburnmail.com/The Last Leaf legacy sculpture has begun its campaign of community fundraising, receiving immediate support from a variety of local benefactors.

Designed to commemorate the great and good of Castle Vale, The Last Leaf is a piece of lasting public artwork – one that will stand over 40m high, with steel silver leaves carrying the names of those recognised by the community. Fundraising for the project has now begun, with organsiers looking for donations of all sizes to support the project.

Leading the charge was The 2005 Group, a community organisation that represents local residents; donating £3,000 to The Last Leaf, The 2005 Group became a Direct Sponsor of the legacy sculpture and kick started the fundraising campaign.

Launched after the dissolution of the Housing Action Trust (HAT) The 2005 Group acts as a continued voice for Castle Vale – ensuring the needs of local residents are represented in public consultations.

Wendy Stokes, a member of The 2005 Group, said “the idea of a commemoration of people that had worked so hard to make Castle Vale a better place to live came originally from the group.  They wanted this to be a lasting memory for the residents who were no longer with us and something that could recognise other residents who have worked hard for their community in forthcoming years.

The group felt that a donation to help this (The Last Leaf) become a lasting sculpture would be good way to remember residents of Castle Vale, not only now but for many years to come. It would also be a piece of artwork that Castle Vale residents could be very proud of.”

Mirroring this with their own donation of £500, the Watton Green East Residents Group were the first to become an Official Supporter of The Last Leaf – endorsing the project as a whole, whilst commemorating their own key members.

Tony and Pat Romano of the Watton Green East Residents Group, said “two of our strong members, who are not with us now, will have their names on the tree. We hope it will be a reminder to future generations of the work put in by these volunteers to make Castle Vale a good place to live.”

There are various ways to contribute to The Last Leaf legacy sculpture, from becoming a Direct Sponsor or Official Supporter to simply donating pocket change – give a little to make a lot happen. Organisers state that just £1 from everyone who lives and works in Castle Vale would be enough for The Last Leaf and other community projects, including the Castel Vale Festival planned for September.

Lord Rooker was the first individual to donate to The Last Leaf, becoming an Official Sponsor, with Midlands developers Jessups matching the ex Perry Barr MP’s personal donation of £100; both their names will appear in the accompanying book and on the website. Everyone who donates to The Last Leaf legacy sculpture will have their involvement documented.

Designed by Erdington based artist & architect Saranjit Birdi, The Last Leaf legacy sculpture is inspired by an old South American custom that a person is not mourned as long as the last person who knew them is alive – that person known as ‘the last leaf’. Birdi wanted to “create a beautiful piece of public art, one that would be a clear and prominent reminder of the community behind it.”

Saranjit Birdi has created public art all across Birmingham, including significant work in the Severn Valley Park and the Under the Sun sculpture on Handsworth’s Soho Road. The Last Leaf legacy sculpture was designed alongside local residents, putting Castle Vale firmly at the heart of the project – whilst fighting off reported attempts to engage Birdi in other Birmingham districts.

To learn more about The Last Leaf legacy sculpture, please visit www.celebratingcastlevale.wordpress.com

Donations can also be taken online, with specific information on how to contribute found at www.celebratingcastlevale.wordpress.com/donations

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