AN INSPIRING wetland-themed sculpture ‘Nest’ by awarding-winning metal sculptor, Ian Gill, is now complete on the A38 Slimbridge roundabout, as part of Slimbridge Wetland Centre’s 75 project.

Seventy-five years ago the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) was just an idea in the mind of founder, Sir Peter Scott.

Slimbridge was the first trust wetland centre to open, in 1946, and it covers 1,000 acres of exhibits and internationally important wetlands.

Over 250,000 visitors a year visit the centre to connect with nature and it is at the heart of trust’s pioneering conservation breeding work.

In 2016 Slimbridge received National Lottery Heritage Funding towards a project, Slimbridge 75, to continue this work in memory of Sir Peter Scott.

The project’s mission is to celebrate the life of Sir Peter Scott and tell the story of Slimbridge Wetland Centre and its role in modern conservation.

The project aims to provide high quality experiences for visitors and to inspire visitors to become active supporters of wetland conservation.

The A38 sculpture, funded by Moto in the Community, is the final instalment and marks the completion of the Slimbridge 75 project.

Louise Hughes, Chair, Moto in the Community said: “We’re so excited that this beautiful sculpture has now been installed and that WWT will now have this local landmark to signpost Slimbridge as the home of conservation as we know it today.

"We’re delighted that this sculpture can help showcase WWT’s 75th anniversary celebrations to the local community and beyond.”

In 2018, children at Slimbridge Primary School were asked to come up with a concept for the roundabout, by creating designs that reflected what WWT meant to them.

The two and three dimensional drawings, inspired by wetlands, were then entered into a competition.

A pupil, aged 11, won with her fun design which incorporated a blend of natural wetland habitats, insects and bird species which can be spotted at Slimbridge.

The winning concept was shared with selected artists to work up a finished design.

Slimbridge centre have been working with Gloucestershire Highways and Stroud District Council to develop the roundabout into a striking start to visitors' journeys to Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

Award-winning metal sculptor Ian Gill has brought the winning student’s vision to life and October 2021 has seen the completion of the sculpture.

Ian has been designing and creating contemporary works of art for almost two decades.

He has been shortlisted for the GAGA Construction Industry Award and recent work includes a giant dragonfly sculpture at The Jardin Blanc Hospitality Venue at the Chelsea Flower Show.

His sculptures include a combination of traditional blacksmithing and modern industrial techniques, working with heavy gauge materials that can be hot forged.

He said: “With our biodiversity in decline, ‘Nest’ is a constant reminder that without nurture and change, this is what we could lose.

"The sculpture depicts an infinity of lily pads, with a whole range of wildfowl and birds living amongst it, creating its own sanctuary.

"Raising awareness and reminding us how beautiful nature is around us and why we need to protect it.”