RIBBLE Valley’s Olympic heroes Samantha Murray and Jon Schofield rounded off a truly memorable year with a festive presentation of two unique and handmade awards.
They were presented by Ribble Valley Borough Council in recognition of the local athletes’ exceptional efforts at the London Olympics last summer. Samantha (23), of West Bradford, won the silver medal in the modern pentathlon – the final event of the games – while 27-year-old Jon, from Sawley, took bronze in the canoe sprint alongside his kayaking partner Liam Heath.
The medalists were honoured at a civic reception and victory parade through Clitheroe immediately after the Olympics, but the council was also keen that they should have a permanent keepsake enshrining the borough’s appreciation and admiration.
It commissioned top pewter artist Ella McIntosh, who grew up in Clitheroe and is a former pupil of its grammar school, to produce personalised pieces of artwork for the triumphant pair. Ella (26) also enjoyed success in 2012 and featured in this newspaper when she secured highly-prized studio space at the heart of Manchester’s vibrant arts scene.
After receiving the commission Ella, who has a first-class honours degree in designed metalwork and jewellery, studied extensive footage of Samantha and Jon from the London games. She then designed and produced beautiful pewter bowls for the two medalists, each featuring figurines engaged in their respective sports.
Samantha’s features a swimmer, show-jumper, runner, pistol-shooter and fencer, while Jonathan’s captures the final dramatic moments of his race to the finishing line in his two-man kayak.
Ella, who is one of the UK’s leading pewter designers and a member of The Worshipful Company of Pewterers, said: “I have never worked with figurines before, so this commission posed a unique challenge and I am pleased with the result.
“It was an honour to work on a piece commemorating the Olympic success of two outstanding athletes from my home borough.”
The finished bowls were presented by Leader of the Council Michael Ranson in a ceremony at The Platform Gallery, in Clitheroe.
Speaking before the event Coun. Ranson said: “Samantha and Jonathan both hail from my Waddington and West Bradford ward, so I am delighted to be presenting them with these fine pieces of artwork marking their incredible success at London 2012 and the ongoing pride that they bring to the borough.”
The pewter bowls sit on oak plinths made by master woodworker Paul Case, of Osbaldeston. Both athletes were understandably delighted to receive the award, which will take pride of place alongside their Olympic medals.