As an organisation which works to make a great city, better, Leeds Civic Trust has been in admiration of how local communities have come together during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Much like their Blue Plaques, they wanted to commemorate this time in our shared history by bringing a bit of colour to our streets.
As well as providing a useful place to sit, benches have also traditionally been used to commemorate people and events. Rather than the usual brass plaque the Trust has commissioned a series of hand painted benches that will each tell their own individual stories.
The ‘Take a Seat’ initiative which will see a colourful community of benches, from Guiseley to Beeston, Horsforth to Gipton, providing a place to contemplate the last year, and by their imaginative designs allow local communities to tell their individual Covid story.
15 benches will be decorated, painted, carved and curated by a variety of local groups and arts organisations who submitted successful applications to the Civic Trust. They will be making their way into our parks, green spaces, community centres and high streets this June.
Leeds Civic Trust Director, Martin Hamilton said;
“It has been an incredibly difficult year for the city, but it has brought out the very best in us. We wanted to show our appreciation to the people of Leeds for their resilience, care and kindness. ‘Take a Seat’ hopefully goes some way to showing our admiration.
“The response to our call-out has been wonderful, and we very much look forward to working with the successful groups during the next few months.
“We hope come June, members of the public will spot these special ‘Take a Seat’ benches and it will bring people some much needed cheer, or a quiet place to reflect on what an emotional time it has been.”
One of the successful groups are Friends of Middleton Park and their spokesperson, Secretary and Trustee, Rachel Darton said;
“We are very excited to be one of the groups chosen to receive a Take a Seat bench, which we intend to place in Middleton Park.
“Whilst restrictions have been in place, we have seen an increase in the number of people visiting the park, concerned for the welfare of the wildlife, and using it as a place where they have found comfort and peace. We are so lucky to have such a lovely green space available to us in South Leeds.
“We want to reflect the importance of the park to the local community through the design of the bench and we would like local residents to get involved.
“Our ideas for the design include a central image of a white swan, surrounded by other colourful pictures that represent Middleton Park, like flowers, trees, dogs, the Middleton Railway, cycling and mining. We also thought about including images of people holding hands.
“A nice quotation has also been suggested: ‘And at all times a place of repose and refreshment of spirit for busy workaday folk.’
“Through this design we aim to show how the community has come together at a very difficult time, to look after the swans, each other and also to enjoy the Park.”
Please get in touch with Friends of Middleton Park, with your thoughts, or if you would like to be involved in creating the design or painting the bench. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page.
This post is based on a press release issued by Leeds Civic Trust