Celebrities and local heroes come face to face on Pont y
Sporting legends, local heroes
and schoolchildren have all been chosen to be immortalised at Pont
In February the Pont y Werin steering group asked Cardiff
and Vale of Glamorgan residents for their help in choosing a local
hero, celebrity or historic figure to be a part of the ‘Pont y
Werin portrait bench’.
The portrait benches feature a laser cut
outline of three life size individuals, with a bench placed on
either side of the river.
The Portrait Bench is a UK wide art project
from sustainable transport charity Sustrans with each bench
featuring three life-size sculptures which are laser-cut from
weathering Corten steel. There will be nearly 80 installed across
the country with Pont y Werin having two benches placed on it – one
representing Cardiff and one for Penarth.
Once again the residents of Cardiff and the
Vale of Glamorgan got behind the project and put their thinking
caps on to nominate who they felt should be immortalised on the
The steering group, which includes local
councillors, council officers, residents of Cardiff and Penarth,
plus local cycling groups and representatives from Cardiff and Vale
Coalition of the Disabled, had the hard task of whittling down the
Vale of Glamorgan
For the Vale of Glamorgan’s bench, the
steering group selected Nicole Cooke. The
Vale-born Olympic gold medallist was the perfect choice. She
received the highest amount of votes from the residents of the Vale
of Glamorgan and has always been a keen supporter of the bridge,
urging people to get behind and vote for the project back in
Joining Nicole on the Vale side will be
Paralympic gold medallist, Dame Tanni Grey
Thompson, Like Nicole, Tanni received a high number of
votes from the public and has been a keen supporter of the bridge,
speaking publicly about the benefits it will bring to pedestrians,
cyclists and disabled people.
For the Cardiff bench, the group decided that
Sybil Williams, the founder member of Pedal Power,
should feature. Sybil received a number of nominations, and
as one nominee noted Sybil has brought “health and fun to hundreds
of diverse people every week.”
Alongside Sybil on the Cardiff bench will be
Cardiff Devils player, Jason Stone. Jason received
the most nominations from the public and given his history with the
Devils, playing for them for over 21 years, the steering group felt
Jason would be a perfect choice for the portrait bench.
For the remaining place on each bridge, a
special competition took place for the nearest schools to the
bridge, Mount Stuart Primary School for Cardiff and Cogan Primary
School for the Vale of Glamorgan.
The competition asked pupils to draw a picture
of themselves using Pont y Werin and was judged by Cardiff
councillors, Cllr Delme Bowen and Cllr Nigel Howells and also Vale
of Glamorgan Councillors, Cllr Jeff James and Cllr Gordon Kemp.
The winner from Cardiff was Lydia
Harris, aged 10. Lydia’s picture showed her using the
bridge in the summer, with a sunset in the background. The Vale’s
winner was 10-year-old Tim Burns from Cogan. Tim’s
colourful drawing shows people walking, running and cycling on the
bridge while boats sail by in the background.
Glamorgan Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation, Cllr Jeff
James said: “It was a truly difficult task selecting just two local
heroes to be part of this scheme but we feel that Nicole and Tanni,
both of whom received the highest amount of nominations from our
residents, are fantastic representatives. Their achievements in the
sporting world are an inspiration to all and we’re honoured that
they will represent the Vale of Glamorgan at Pont y Werin.
“The children of Cogan Primary School all
produced wonderful drawings but Tim’s in particular stood out to
the judges. His drawing, which shows the progression of someone
walking, to running, to cycling, really impressed us, along with
the use of bright colours and attention to detail, and really sums
up how our residents will benefit from this bridge.
“Many thanks again to the public and Cogan
Primary School for helping us with our selections – it really is
the people’s bridge.”
Executive Member for Travel and
Transportation, Cllr Delme Bowen, said: “We received many wonderful
nominations for the portrait benches and it took us a while to
select who we wanted to be immortalised on the bridge.
“I feel the people we have selected to be on
the benches, represent the people who will benefit from using the
bridge. Sybil and Nicole of course represents the cycling
community, Tanni reflects how the bridge will make a difference to
those with disabilities and Jason and the school pupils represent
the many pedestrians who will use the bridge.
“The children produced some wonderful drawings
- we chose Lydia’s drawing as her picture depicted a beautiful
sunset over the bridge and you could see she had spent a lot of
time working on her drawing.
“I would like to thank everyone who took part
in helping us pick who should feature and I am now looking forward
to seeing the benches in place when Pont y Werin officially
opens to the public.”
Vinny Mott of Sustrans said: “These benches
will make distinctive bookends to the bridge itself, not only
attractive to look at but for a welcome rest and viewing point
too. They feature a range of people reflecting the wide range
of bridge users, who will be from all walks of life, all ages,
whether very sporty or not at all, but just happy to be able to
cross the river under their own steam!”
Pont y Werin is now open.