Squid design uses a tree as sculptural seat

Keith Sealey, owner of Sealey Furniture, Lutterworth, organised a competition for students to design a bench in memory of his parents.
Keith Sealey, owner of Sealey Furniture, Lutterworth, organised a competition for students to design a bench in memory of his parents.

A Lutterworth furniture- maker teamed up with young design students to create a bench which pays tribute to his late parents.

Keith Sealey, of Sealey Furniture in High Street, lost his adopted parents George and Madeleine 27 and 10 years ago respectively, and since the death of his mother he had wanted to create a permanent tribute to them at Coombe Country Park in Warwickshire – a place they had enjoyed visiting.

The Squid Bench

The Squid Bench

Mr Sealey said: “The project started with me having a germ of an idea quite a few years ago, the idea being to use a tree to make a sculptural seat in memory of my parents. I wanted to do something substantially different to a park bench with a brass plaque.

“Being a furniture-maker, my initial thoughts were to make the seat myself, but when I got in touch with Joe Taylor, the manager a Coombe Park, as well as him being very enthusiastic about the idea, he suggested that the project be given to the students at Warwickshire College for them to come up with a design.

“Jamie Ward, the course tutor for furniture-making at the college, was also very enthusiastic so there then began a collaboration that enabled the project to proceed.”

A competition was set up for the students with Mr Sealey providing a prize of tools to last a lifetime worth £500.

Keith Sealey, owner of Sealey Furniture, Lutterworth, organised a competition for students to design a bench in memory of his parents.

Keith Sealey, owner of Sealey Furniture, Lutterworth, organised a competition for students to design a bench in memory of his parents.

Mr Sealey said he was very impressed with the designs submitted by students, and he eventually opted for one created by Jan Waterson, which was nicknamed the Squid Bench because of its shape resembling a cephalopod.

Mr Sealey added: “The timber for the project was supplied by Coombe and was taken to the college at Leamington where Jan, with the dedicated and superb help of the course technical instructor Oliver Renison, were able to realise Jan’s design after months of challenging work.

“The bench is now installed at Coombe Country Park and Jan was presented with his prize, an award was given to Oliver and a thank you was expressed to all of those involved. It’s pleasing to see the bench being used by children and families.”

Mr Sealey experienced heartache a little over two years ago when his Lutterworth business burned down.

He temporarily relocated to other premises and a year later, in June 2012, was able to re-open the Lutterworth workshop in High Street.

At the time, investigators said the blaze had been caused by an electrical fault in a fridge.