Winning design arm chair to mark borough's second dementia friendly park

Release Date: 10 May 2017

A large arm chair sculpture, designed by a local student from Richmond upon Thames College, is set to be installed in Heathfield Recreation Ground this summer, marking the borough's second dementia friendly park.

As part of the ‘Friendly Parks For All’ project, the Council held a consultation in partnership with the Richmond Dementia Action Alliance to look at how the Council can encourage everyone, including people with dementia, to enjoy local parks.

In response to the consultation, Richmond Council first transformed Barnes Green into a dementia friendly open space. Paths were resurfaced, additional benches installed and access to the pond improved. A carved ‘chatty chair’ and totem pole meeting point and carved entry / exit markers have been installed, with new interpretation boards also planned to be introduced later in the summer.

The second phase of the project, has involved Richmond Council and the Richmond Dementia Action Alliance, working with Art and Design students at Richmond upon Thames College to develop plans for improving access to Heathfield Recreation Ground.

Over the past few months, students have been designing an installation that will act as a ‘focal point’. Ten designs were submitted and, following a rigorous judging session, a design by Aleksandra Piechocinska was selected the winner. The sculpture is of a huge armchair that symbolises peace and home.

Designs will now be developed, along with other small projects including way-markers, a sensory trail and interpretation boards.

It is hoped that the arm chair and other features will be installed over the summer.

A new bench sponsored by Merck aimed at encouraging people, both young and old, to come together, and learn from each other has recently been installed at Heathfield Recreation ground. This bench aims to support mental wellbeing whilst also giving a sense of purpose and value, and fits in perfectly with the theme of Friendly Parks for All.

Cllr David Linnette, Mayor of Richmond upon Thames, said:

“We know that people with dementia do enjoy a sense of freedom and being outside. We need to make sure that this is not a stressful experience.

“The designs submitted by the students were fantastic and show how incredibly talented they are. I look forward to seeing the huge chair being installed and seeing how the other additions to the park over the next few months can benefit our residents with dementia.”

Melanie Cressey from the Richmond Dementia Action Alliance commented that she was pleased that: “all the students comprehend the concept of “dementia friendly” so well – greater understanding and awareness towards others very much contributes to a better community for people living with dementia and their carers to live in and be part of.”

Robin Ghurbhurun, Principal and Chief Executive of Richmond upon Thames College, added:

"Our Art and Design students have worked incredibly hard on their designs for a new ‘dementia friendly’ installation and it has been a great opportunity for them to contribute to such an important project. We are looking forward to seeing the positive impact the new sculpture will have on our local community and all future visitors to the park."

The project at Heathfield Recreation Ground is due to be launched on Thursday 11 May from 3.30 to 5.00pm with a tree planting to commemorate the planting of Coronation Avenue 80 years ago. All the shortlisted designs will be displayed at this event. Following this, there will be a programme of activities once a month over the summer for people with dementia and their carers.

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Elinor Firth on 020 8487 5159.

Reference: P211/17

Updated: 21 June 2017