Leighton Park celebrates 125 years with a specially commissioned Peace Pole

19 Jun 2015

This year has been one of celebration for Leighton Park School with birthday parties, special performances and events all to commemorate its 125 anniversary.

In planning the celebrations Nigel Williams, Head, always had in mind the creation of a more permanent reminder of the school’s birthday. “I wanted Leighton Park to have a lasting reminder of our 125th anniversary, something that reflected our Quaker heritage and was also in sympathy with the character of the community and the beautiful park land within which the school resides. That is when the idea of a peace pole came to mind.” Nigel added “We knew finding a sustainable piece of wood for the carving would not be a problem as we had an oak on the Park which was scheduled to be felled. It seemed fitting to extend the life of the tree, which by its age was most likely planted soon after the school’s opening in 1890, for this purpose”.

A current parent, Fiona Mowlem, suggested a specialist wood carver, Simon Hedger, who had experience of similar commissions. “I had seen Simon’s work before and from Nigel’s description of the project I knew Simon would be the ideal craftsman for the commission and would produce an empathetic carving in line with the brief”. Students of the school were asked to contribute to the design and Vlada Evtushenko’s (Year 11), design was taken forward to form the inspiration for the final piece. The final design created by Simon uses pairs of hands surrounding an internally carved peace pole as a visual representation of the school embracing the Quaker testimonies and values in friendship across the wider community; the six pairs of hands being a deliberate, yet subtle, reference to the six Quaker testimonies. Simon commented, “Combining a design inspired by a student of the school, the spirit of the Quaker path spreading their hands around the world and the school emblem being an oak leaf, the sculpture designed itself! The wood provided for the piece was an oak tree from the grounds of the school and so adorning the top of the peace pole is a crown of acorns. I used the twisting shapes of nature to embrace the straight edges of mans’ world.”.

Although a bold piece of sculpture the pole is already becoming part of the natural vista over the Park and as the wood changes and matures with the seasons, we look forward to celebrating 150 and 200 years with our 125th anniversary Peace Pole.