Luton artist helps children celebrate Captain Sir Tom Moore

Sophie Gresswell is creating a portrait of the NHS hero using the many cards he received for his 100th birthday

A new piece of art from a Luton artist is set to honour Captain Sir Tom Moore, featuring artwork by local children and cards he received for his 100th birthday.

Captain Sir Tom lived in Marston Moretaine and captured the support of the nation when he walked 100 laps around his garden during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, raising almost £40million for the NHS. His fundraising led to a knighthood, and on his 100th birthday he received around 160,000 cards from well-wishers.

Artist Sophie Gresswell will create a portrait of Captain Sir Tom on a rainbow backdrop – a nod to the rainbow symbolism used throughout the pandemic – made up of smaller pieces of artwork including a selection of the birthday cards and art by the children from the school.

Sophie Gresswell takes a class at the school

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Sophie has been leading workshops over four days at Marston Moreteyne VC Lower School to help the children create their own abstract art pieces inspired by Captain Sir Tom’s legacy, his birthday cards and their own experiences of people who helped and inspired them throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. All the children at the school will be involved, with a selection of their work set to be included in the final piece.

Hannah Ingram-Moore, Captain Sir Tom’s daughter said: “My family and I feel we are the guardians of the incredible lasting legacy of hope my father left the world. My father believed in bringing communities together - he would be championing this project and all it is achieving across the generations. My family and I are so proud that this is being created in his honour. We would like to thank everyone that has worked tirelessly to bring this project to life and we cannot wait to see the final piece.”

Cllr Sue Clark, Deputy Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “I am delighted we have this wonderful and exciting community art project involving all the children at Marston Moreteyne Lower School to help celebrate the amazing achievements of Captain Sir Tom. As a community we couldn’t be prouder of him. It is a great way to get local children involved and I am looking forward to seeing the final art work.”

Sophie, whose work focusses on belonging and identity, said: “Captain Sir Tom Moore inspired so many people to connect at a time when it was so hard to come together, and I hope to depict this sense of togetherness and shared experience, as well as celebrate his legacy, through the final artwork.”

The pupils at Marston Moreteyne school with their artwork

Nicky Straccia, Deputy Headteacher of Marston Moreteyne VC Lower School, said: “We’re extremely proud and grateful to be involved in creating the artwork to remember Captain Sir Tom, who’s become a really important figure in local history and an inspiration to many. All the children are loving being involved, and we can’t wait to see the finished piece.”

Jo Roberts, Community Engagement Officer for the Forest of Marston Vale, said: “It’s an honour to be involved in this project to commemorate such a generous man and inspiring member of our Forest community. We hope that by hanging the artwork in our Forest Centre it will be somewhere for local people and visitors from further afield to come together and remember him and his achievements, in the same way he bought the nation together in its time of need.”

The final artwork will be displayed indoors at the Forest Centre in the Millennium Country Park in Martson Moretaine later in the year. The project has been funded by grants from Central Bedfordshire Council Ward Members and the Forest of Marston Vale Community Fund.