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DUKE TO OPEN BURGESS HILL ART TRAIL

Some three years ago local Burgess Hill business CAE approached the Council with an offer to make £18,000 available for signage on the Green Circle trail as part of their commitment to a greener planet.  The Green Circle is a trail which surrounds the town incorporating large open spaces and has spokes leading off it into the town.  It is well used and the offer to make it even more attractive was welcomed.  Some 23 information boards depicting wildlife and landmarks have been developed in-house and installed along the trail.  Trail markers will also be installed.
A successful application was made to Tesco Bags of Help for a grant of £10,000 to develop and print a history trail leaflet for the centre of town and a trails leaflet with 9 local trails for the rest of town.  In addition 10 steel leaflet holders were strategically placed to distribute the leaflets and 6 A1 information boards depicting the history trail were put up.  In addition a children’s spotter trail was compiled to fit in with the information boards.  Children can identify such creatures as Bertie the Bee fly, Daphne Dormouse and Buster the Blue Tit on the boards and tick them off in their trail leaflet.
Mid Sussex District Council notified the Town Council that £76,000 was available from section 106 funds for an art project.  A strategy for the use of these funds was developed and 5 items of historical or environmental significance identified.  Various artists were invited to submit proposals and 5 artists were commissioned. 
The five themes are:
• Bluebird: Donald Campbell approached the Burgess Hill based Norris brothers to design the Bluebird K7 boat which achieved the world speed record seven times (276mph). They also created the Bluebird CN7 car which broke the world speed record at 403mph in 1964 with Sir Donald at the wheel.  Awarded to artist Steve Geliot.
• Emily Temple: Burgess Hill benefactress who left St John’s Park and the Park Centre to the residents of the town.  She was an artist and modeller of wax flowers.  Awarded to artist Helena Roden.
• John Charles Bee Mason: A pioneer of early film making who made two films about bees.  He was a war photographer and apiarist and was involved in several scientific expeditions including Shackleton’s South Pole expedition.  Awarded to artist Alan Potter.
• John Saxby: Following two fatal rail crashes due to signal failure John patented a form of mechanical interlocking between points and signals.  He formed Saxby & Farmer which became the major contractor responsible for building signal boxes as we know them today.  Awarded to artist Jon Mills Ltd.
• Wildlife habitat:  At 33 hectares, Bedelands is the largest green site in Burgess Hill.  There are seven meadows set in ancient woodlands, with a great profusion of bugs, birds, bats, amphibians and mammals including the protected Hazel Dormouse and Great Crested Newt.  Wildflowers are abundant, so much so that the Millennium Seedbank and High Weald Landscape Trust both harvest seeds here.   Awarded to artist Janine Creaye.
Part of each artist’s commission was to spend time in the community and which saw workshops on wax flowers and mosaics taking place at the town festival and at schools, a hand carving have-a-go session and year 1 students creating plasticine wild flowers.  Older students were set a project to design a 3D sculpture on nature.
With all three projects ending at around the same time and each complimenting the other, it was decided to invite a representative from the Palace to launch the trails and artworks.  HRH The Duke of Gloucester has graciously accepted our invitation and will open the artworks on site on Monday 2 October and meet the artists and other dignitaries at a civic reception afterwards.
Leader of Burgess Hill Town Council, Councillor Pru Moore expressed her delight that the Duke had recognised the value of these community projects.  She thanked the sponsors, the artists and officials from the Town Council and Mid Sussex District Council for a successful project which will encourage people to walk and instil civic pride as they learn more about this interesting town.