Sailor unveils bench for Swaffham’s naval hero

A famous Swaffham seafarer has been commemorated with a nautically-themed bench on a road named in his honour – unveiled by a serving naval rating who had just moved onto the same street.

The bench, made of galvanised steel anchors and ship's rope, was formally presented at a new public open space off Admiral Wilson Way.

Following a competition last year, the road was named after Admiral Sir Arthur Knyvet Wilson, the Swaffham-born hero who earned a Victoria Cross for gallantry and briefly held the post of First Sea Lord in 1910.

And with so much nautical heritage in the landlocked town, there was really only one option when it came to choosing someone to unveil the new bench.

The job was given to Leading Seaman Jonathan Beedell, a naval communications technician on HMS Cornwall, who had recently dropped anchor in Swaffham by moving into one of the homes on the new estate.

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'It's nice that our local naval heritage is being recognised,' said Leading Seaman Beedell. 'I must admit that until recently I knew nothing about Admiral Wilson. It's appropriate that we are honouring a naval hero – we are in Nelson's County, after all.'

Created by a group of Norfolk artists at the Holkham Forge Partnership, the 'Admiral Seat' is supported by three steel anchors, one of which bears an admiral's regalia, and backed with a four-metre length of genuine ship's rope.

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The bench is positioned at the edge of a public open space created by Little Cressingham-based firm Abel Homes in the heart of a new development of 63 houses being built at the site off Castleacre Road.

It is the fourth piece of public art commissioned by the company since it pledged three years ago to provide artworks within each of its new development sites.

Maggie Abel, of Abel Homes, said: 'The aim is to create a centrepiece for the community, a kind of modern-day village sign. 'By providing a piece of public art in a public open space right in the heart of the new homes, we are hoping to bind the threads of the new community together through a sense of shared ownership, as well as enhancing the physical environment in which people will be living.

'When we realised that a genuine serving naval rating had bought one of our new homes, he was the obvious choice to invite to unveil the Admiral Seat – and we are delighted that Jonathan agreed to help out.'

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