Grieving grandmother of murdered Sheffield teen wants city to host towering knife angel sculpture bearing his name
The grieving grandmother of a murdered Sheffield teenager wants a knife angel sculpture bearing his name to come to the city.
The eight-metre tall National Monument Against Violence and Aggression was created from more than 100,000 weapons which had been surrendered in amnesties across the country, including South Yorkshire.
The towering statue, which took five years to make, was produced by the British Ironwork Centre in Shropshire to highlight the senseless violence claiming so many lives across the country and to act as a memorial to those killed.
It is currently on display in Hull, having already appeared in Liverpool over Christmas, and is due to head to Coventry, Derbyshire and Gloucestershire over coming months.
Its makers are keen for it to visit as many parts of the UK as possible and are writing to cathedrals and councils across the country, including those in Sheffield, inviting them to host the sculpture.
Many of the blades from which the angel was constructed have been inscribed by victims’ families with moving messages of love and forgiveness.
One bears the name of Jamie Stuart, a 19-year-old bricklayer from Ecclesfield who was stabbed to death while walking home from a party in Parson Cross in 2011.
His grandmother Anne Gray would love to see the sculpture in Jamie’s home city and has written to has written to Sheffield Cathedral and the council urging them to take up the offer to host it.
She said: “It would mean everything to our family to have the angel come to Sheffield, and I think Jamie would love the idea, especially with his name being on the back.
“We lost Jamie eight years ago but it’s still raw and this is just one way in which we're trying to keep his memory alive.
“When Jamie died you only had the occasional stabbing but knife crime is so much worse now and it’s heartbreaking to see so many young people getting killed.
“I don’t know what the solution is but we have to do everything we can to stop people dying this way, and maybe this will make a difference.”
Clive Knowles, chairman of the British Ironwork Centre, said: “Knife crime is on the rise nationwide, and the angel has a huge impact on people who see it because it’s so emotive.
“It’s looking down on you with a perplexed expression as if asking ‘why are you all hurting each other?’
“It ignites important debates and discussions, raises awareness, educates our youth and communities about the seriousness of knife crime, and invites a strong movement towards creating the change needed to end this affliction.
“It was created by the nation for the nation, with the support of police constabularies, anti-violence groups and hundreds of families who have lost loved ones, and we want as many people to witness it as possible.
“Liverpool and the other host cities have shown great tenacity in stepping up and addressing what's a national problem, and I hope Sheffield will join them.”
The sculpture was originally designed to stand on the fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square but was rejected by authorities in the capital, partly, says Mr Knowles, over fears it would harm tourism.
More than 250,000 people visited the angel and the cathedral over the course of its stay in Liverpool, according to Mr Knowles, during which a number of services and workshops about knife crime were held.
While the angel itself would be provided free, the council or cathedral would be expected to cover the expense of hosting it and the cost of transporting the sculpture to its next location.
Knife surrender bins were provided to police forces and community groups across the country, including the One Nation Community Centre in Sheffield, to collect the blades needed for the sculpture.
The Star has contacted Sheffield Council and Sheffield Cathedral, neither of which has yet responded.