A giant amphibian has hopped on to one of the largest roundabouts in Newcastle-under- Lyme thanks to the talents of young engineers and funding from sponsors.

Apprentices from social enterprise PM Training have made an 8ft sculpture of a frog leaping onto a lilly pad which has been installed on the traffic circle by Gallowstree Lane, near Keele University.

The eye-catching piece of public art – constructed from galvanised mild steel – has been designed by internationally renowned sculptor and North Staffordshire born Andy Edwards who is famous for The Beatles at the Waterfront statue in Liverpool and the Christmas Truce statue in Belgium.

Bayley Palmer, 17, and Luke Steadman, 19, worked with Phil Brown, PM Training’s Artworks Manager, to work out an appropriate construction method to bring Andy’s initial sketches to life.

It took the team approximately three months to complete the project. The initiative, sponsored by Derek Mawby Surfacing and Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District, is the latest commissioned by the Council to highlight indigenous animals and plants as part of its annual Britain in Bloom campaign.

Frog-sculpture-NUL-March-2021Councillor Jill Waring, Cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage, said: “The installation of the frog on this main gateway into Newcastle has been delayed for some time due to the pandemic but it’s great to finally add an amphibian to our growing collection of flora and fauna models which, when complemented by sustainable planting displays, really brighten up our normally busy roundabouts and catch residents’ attention.

“They are well-liked, attract a lot of positive comments and put a smile on people’s faces, something which is needed now more than ever. It’s nice to do something different which not only raises awareness of animals and plants local to the area but also gives young people invaluable experience and the opportunity to develop their skills. Bayley and Luke should be very proud of their work – they’ve done a brilliant job.

“Britain in Bloom is all about enhancing the borough, celebrating our natural heritage and creating the conditions which encourage economic growth. The tangible benefits are acknowledged and appreciated by businesses who are proud to sponsor our various activities.

“We’re very much looking forward to entering this year’s digital-based Heart of England in Bloom campaign and celebrating 30 years of success in a horticultural competition promoting sustainability, community involvement and sense of place.”

PM Training is the largest independent provider of apprenticeships for young people in Staffordshire and has training centres in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent. For
more information, visit  www.pmtraining.org.uk

Artworks Manager Phil Brown added: “We were delighted to be asked to create an attractive, recognisable landmark to adorn another of Newcastle’s roundabouts and add to the ever-improving scenery of the town. This is the first sculpture that Bayley has worked on, and he’s done a fantastic job alongside Luke. It’s been a perfect example of two young apprentices sharing knowledge and working together for the benefit of others.”

Bayley added: “This is my first sculpture with PM Training and I’m really proud of what I’ve done and to see the final project.”

(Main image pictured, left to right, Luke Steadman, Bayley Palmer and Phil Brown from PM Training.)

In 2018 Newcastle-under-Lyme was named the overall winner of Heart of England in Bloom for the third consecutive year and in 2017 secured Gold and category winner in the national finals. The borough also competed in the national Champion of Champions category in 2018, achieving a gold award, the highest accolade in the campaign.

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