Local heroes shortlist for new bench is revealed

Sportsman Tyrone Wildman
Sportsman Tyrone Wildman
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A FAMOUS comedian, a medical pioneer, an influential author and an inspirational young BMX rider are among the names vying to be immortalised in a new sculpture.

In January, the Observer invited nominations for people with local connections to adorn the special portrait bench, which will sit on the new cycle path linking St Leonards seafront with Galley Hill in Bexhill.

Sustrans, a healthy travel charity which helped secure lottery funding for the new route, wanted three local figures whose sculptures could be added to the bench to make it a true community landmark. Readers inundated us with suggestions, which were whittled down to this shortlist by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and other partners in the scheme.

n Spike Milligan (1918-2002) – comedian, actor and writer best known for The Goons, He was stationed in Bexhill during the Second World War and is buried in Winchelsea.

n John Logie Baird (1888-1946) – the inventor of television who made some of his earliest breakthroughs at his Linton Crescent flat.

n Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) – The first female doctor in the UK and the USA, she opened the Women’s Medical College in London with Florence Nightingale. Retired to Hastings where she died in 1910.

n Robert Tressell (1870-1911) – author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, published in 1914 four years after his death. Lived most of his life in Hastings and is still revered as one of the key champions of socialism.

n Alan Turing (1912-1954) – The World War Two code-breaker who helped crack the fiendish Nazi Enig-ma code spent several years as a boy in St Leonards. Went on to pioneer computer science and was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential people of the last century.

n Tyrone Wildman (1951-2010) – A well-known local sportsman, a champion body builder and much-respected member of Sidley Cricket Club. Much-missed since his sad death in December.

n Sid Benyon (1956-2010) – Popular local artist best known for stone mosaics on the beach opposite the Arts Forum where he was a popular and well-liked figure. He died last summer days before his first solo show.

n Sidney Little (1885-1961) – In the 1930s Mr Little was the Hastings borough engineer who transformed our seafront by building the UK’s first underground car parks, the covered promenade and the West St Leonards open air lido. Also helped create the Mulberry Harbour used in the D-Day landings.

n Richard Boyley Ball (1977-2002) – A talented BMX rider born and bred in Hastings whose character and lust for life inspired the sport’s resurgence in 1066 Country. There is an annual Boyley Jam held in his honour bringing BMXers and skaters from far and wide.

Cllr Matthew Lock, ESCC lead member for the project, said: “Everyone on the short-list has had connections with Hastings and Bexhill and I hope that even more local people will take part in deciding the top three who will appear on the portrait bench.”

Readers can vote for their top three choices - email rob.alderson@jpress.co.uk or write to him c/o Hastings Observer, Woods House, Telford Road, St Leonards, TN38 9LZ. The closing date is April 8 and everyone who votes will be entered into a draw to win a free bike, donated by Halfords.