Life-sized lion statue being created for Coronation celebrations

face of the lion

A majestic life-sized lion statue is being made from natural materials by residents with learning disabilities and additional needs to celebrate His Majesty King Charles III’s Coronation.

The seated male lion, complete with crown, sword, shield, orb, and sceptre, has been an art project by residents who attend Community Lives Day Services. The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead’s day services are provided by adult social care partner Optalis.

Artist-in-residence Jo Werrett is helping the people Optalis supports to create the magnificent statue, echoing the lions on the Royal Standard flag.

When complete he will sit on a wooden pedestal, also made from scratch, and proudly displayed in Windsor Yards shopping centre in the run-up to, and during, the Coronation weekend.

He is made of materials from nature which sits at the heart of His Majesty’s ecological ethos. 

The statue is being created out of moss, pinecones, grasses, bark, and branches, and will eventually become a bug hotel at Boyn Grove Community Resource Centre, Maidenhead.

Jo said: “We have collected items from the garden at Boyn Grove and the people we support have been going out and collecting items they find on nature walks or through Community Lives conservation projects.

“One person found beautiful black feathers and brought them to us and now they are his eyelashes.

“Everybody has done what they can whether it be finding items, weaving bits into the sculpture, or making and painting the other items like the shield. It’s an extremely tactile and inclusive piece of art and we have all enjoyed making him together.”

He has been named Mfalme (corr), which means king in Swahili, linking the lion to its native African habitat and the Commonwealth country of Kenya.

Victoria Holt, Community Development Manager for Optalis, said: “Living in the Royal Borough we are at the forefront of the Coronation celebrations, and we wanted to do something to commemorate this special occasion.

“What we do best is working together, and we involve the people we support and our support staff who have a range of different talents to share.

“We have groups who love to do arts and crafts, knit and crochet as well as some who do conservation or woodwork. 

“This has been a collaborative project where all those skills are being used. Everybody has really enjoyed being part of creating this magnificent lion.

“We want to share what the people we support can do and it is why we are exhibiting him in Windsor around the Coronation weekend before it returns to Boyn Grove Day Services to start another life as a bug hotel.”

Residents have also learned to sing and sign the national anthem using Makaton, a communication system for people with disabilities.

The Mayor, Councillor Christine Bateson, said: “These are fantastic projects which have united day services to show how talented the people supported are.

“Optalis is particularly skilled at embracing our residents’ abilities and making sure they are included in every way with national events, all of which enriches lives.

“The lion is stunning, and I would urge people to go and see him in Windsor Yards shopping centre from this weekend until after the Coronation celebrations. I hope you think he is as wonderful as we do.”

Residents from a variety of services Optalis provides from all over the Royal Borough, and in Wokingham Borough, have contributed to making the lion and his regal accessories.

They include a 
•    crown – made by people who use Dementia Services at Boyn Grove, and a crocheted cloth cap made by service manager Sandra Wheeler
•    orb – made by people with learning disabilities using day services in Woodley and Earley
•    sceptre – made by people who use learning disability day service in Oakbridge, Windsor, and Boyn Grove, Maidenhead
•    shield –made by people with physical disabilities at the Westmead Centre, Wokingham
•    sword – made by people who use Oakbridge Centre, Windsor
•    eagle – made by people who use the Acorn Centre for people with learning disabilities in Wokingham.