Lasting legacy project for Lowestoft

WORK started this week on a special 'lasting legacy' for Lowestoft as a new project was unveiled to mark the role of local athletes in the Paralympics.

WORK started this week on a special 'lasting legacy' for Lowestoft as a new project was unveiled to mark the role of local athletes in the Paralympics.

The first official Olympic artist in the world, Suffolk's Kevin Whitney, launched the scheme on Tuesday with youngsters from the Ashley School.

A series of drawing sessions, construction workshops and design classes will now be held in forthcoming months as students aged between 16 and 25 from the special school in Ashley Downs and Lowestoft College team up to develop a 15sq m mosaic.

They will be constructing a 'figurative and abstract design' that portrays the Paralympic values of respect, excellence, friendship and determination.

And with the involvement of Ashley School's talented young athletes - who are all aiming for a place in London 2012 Paralympics - it is hoped that this mosaic will eventually be installed at the Waterlane Leisure Centre in Lowestoft in six months time.

After growing up in Kesgrave and attending the Ipswich Art School, Mr Whitney was appointed by the British Olympic Association as their official Olympic artist in 1982 - which was a first for any country in the world in the history of the modern Olympic movement.

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Since then he has regularly submitted artwork from Olympic Games at Barcelona and Beijing, and he told the Journal: 'London will be my fourth Olympics and I'm really looking forward to it. I am very proud to be part of it all

After recently completing paintings of swimmer Mark Foster and athlete Jason Gardiner, he is currently painting diver Tom Daley.

'He is an amazing young lad and is always very, very co-operative - as are all the athletes,' he said.

With initial brainstorming and ideas all put forward during a number of sessions this week, more classes are planned in the future, and returning to Suffolk, Mr Whitney said: 'I want to make these sessions fun and while we've constructed murals across the country at venues including the British Olympic Association headquarters this will be my first mosaic.

'We will be working with these youngsters in what will be a fabulous project as those involved will see this mosaic for many years to come, and they will be able to tell future generations they were part of it all.'

The 2012 Legacy Project, which the mosaic scheme is part of, has received lottery funding and is being backed by London charity Activities Unlimited.

Evelyn Thomas art co-ordinator at the Ashley School told The Journal: 'This is a very exciting project and for the school to be involved in something with national links is a big achievement.

'When the mosaic is completed and installed at the sports centre, the youngsters will be able to grow up with their works over the years knowing they were involved in what will be a lasting legacy of the Paralympics.'