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Landmark sculptures make a striking addition to well-used Sleaford path

By Sleaford Target  |  Posted: January 23, 2012

ENCOURAGING RIDING:Silhouettes of late cycle shop owner Nev Crane, retired dental surgeon Mark Gould and cycle-crazy 10-year-old Oliver Harding have been installed on a cycle route between Sleaford and Leasingham. Pictured at the bench is Mr Crane's widow Jean and Oliver and Mr Gould.

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SILHOUETTE portraits of three well known local cyclists have now been installed on a cycle path linking Leasingham and Sleaford.

It is hoped that the a bench featuring late cycle shop owner Nev Crane, retired dental surgeon Mark Gould and cycle-crazy 10-year-old Oliver Harding will inspire others to get on their bikes and across the bridge as they travel between Leasingham and Sleaford.

Oliver, Mr Gould, their families and Mr Crane's family are all thrilled with the landmark sculptures which they agree make a striking addition to the well-used popular path created by North Kesteven District Council in association with the County Council and sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

All three were chosen by the community group overseeing the Connect 2 route's creation, from nominations made through a public appeal.

Former Sleaford cycle shop owner Nev Crane was a popular suggestion. Known as "Mr Cycle", he travelled the world competing and regularly took part in the Milk Race – winning a stage in 1964; he provided generations with their bikes from shops in Westbanks and Southgate over 35 years, taught cycle safety, helped to found the Wheelers cycling club, organised races and promoted cycling widely.

Even at his funeral the back of the church was filled with pushbikes and a procession of cyclists formed part of the cortege.

His widow Jean Crane said he would be hugely impressed with the Connect2 route, the bridge and the bench he now features on.

She said: "Given all the efforts Nev made towards safer cycling in Sleaford it's great that through the bench his memory can continue to have a positive influence."

Although no longer cycling himself, Mr Gould is delighted by the cyclepath development and hopes it will inspire others to commute daily to work or just to make the occasional journey into town by foot or cycle.

For 30 years he cycled between his Leasingham home and Carre Street practice four times daily, in all weathers and wishes the Connect2 route was in place then to avoid the busy Holdingham roundabout or safer detour via the A153.

His wife Pat said: "We walk along the path now and always remark at what a great initiative it is. It's completely transformed the trip into Sleaford and we're pleased to see so many people use it for leisure use and daily commuting."

The love of cycling crosses all generations as seen with the youngest of the portrait subjects, Oliver who attends Leasingham Primary School.

He said he was really proud to be added onto the bench, which would be a good way of showing other people how cycling can be enjoyable and fun. He added: "The path's really good because it's a safer and quicker way to get across the A17 and means that we can easily get on to the other cycle paths for longer journeys."

The bench is funded by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans as part of its support for 79 similar routes across the country all designed to encourage increased cycling and walking between communities.

In all locations a portrait bench is being commissioned, featuring cut-out steel portraits of up to three people with a local association.

Nev, Mark and Oliver were all suggested by members of the public through an appeal which brought forward 16 nominations.

In addition to Sustrans' contribution from a £50 million Lottery grant fund, finance for the whole Connect 2 route is provided by partners including NKDC and Lincolnshire County Council and its delivery is directed by a local steering group including schools, parish and town councils. The project was instigated by residents of Leasingham in response to dangers in crossing the A17.

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