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Lecturer creates memorial statue of Olympics hero

27 July 2012

A life-size bronze statue of an Olympic legend was designed and created by a Canterbury Christ Church University lecturer and unveiled during Olympic celebrations in Brighton this week.

Pete Webster (left) alongside Olympic legend, Steve Ovett at the unveiling of the memorial statue
Pete Webster (left) alongside Olympic legend, Steve Ovett at the unveiling of the memorial statue

Pete Webster, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, designed and created a statue of Steve Ovett, the Gold medal-winning Brighton athlete famous for his 800m victory in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The statue becomes a permanent reminder of Steve’s success just as the London Games begin.

The sculpture was commissioned by a group of local Brighton businessmen after the first bronze statue of Steve, also created by Pete in 1987, was cut down and stolen from its home in a Brighton park in September 2007.

The new version took over seven months to complete and stands on a stone plinth on the finishing strait of the Brighton Marathon course, 400 metres from the pier. The distance from the statue to the end of the pier and back again adds up to 800 metre distance which saw Steve Ovett win his gold medal. Steve’s race is still rated as one of the most iconic moments in the history of the Olympics. 

The sculpture is part of The City of Brighton’s Olympic celebrations and was unveiled by Steve’s children who accompanied him from his home in Australia to be at the special event in Brighton.

Speaking about the event, Pete Webster, said: “It was an amazing day filled with so many memorable moments. Steve’s speech will be a lifelong memory and the reaction from the crowd when the sculpture was revealed was spine tingling. The response to the statue from Steve and his family has been fantastic and I am delighted they are so pleased with the final work.”

The life-size figure began with a multitude of drawings and small maquettes being made with photographs and moving images used as reference material to create the final clay version.

Amongst the guests present at the unveiling were recent PGCE graduates from Canterbury Christ Church University, alongside a number of Pete’s past pupils who were present at the unveiling of the first statue 25 years ago. Many are now art teachers themselves in various secondary schools throughout Kent.

James Harrison, one of Pete’s past PGCE graduates, said: “Seeing such an achievement by one of my lecturers showed that being an artist/teacher does not begin and end in the classroom and that having personal work is paramount to your success and the success of your teaching.

“It also showed the importance of sharing achievements with each other in the way that the PGCE Art and Design community does and it is great to see how Pete leads the artist/teacher model by example, as popular belief would not believe such a prestigious sculpture is possible by an educator.”

Tim Ridgeway from The Brighton Argus newspaper who followed the project throughout its construction, said: “When I first heard about the plan to create Steve Ovett statue mark two in March this year I thought it was a fantastic idea. The day itself was incredible. It was a fitting way to celebrate one of the city’s great sporting heroes.”

/Ends

Notes to Editor

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students, and five campuses across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • We are the South East’s largest provider of courses for public service careers (outside of London).
  • Christ Church has one of the best teacher training records in the country, with both its Initial Teacher Training and Teach First programmes recently awarded ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, and being in the Complete University Guide’s UK top 10 for three consecutive years.
  • Founded in 1962 as a teacher training college, 2012 is the University’s Golden Jubilee this year, reflecting on 50 years of higher education and innovation.

For media enquiries:

Katie Scoggins
01227 782826