Tribute to local cyclist unveiled on Newcastle roundabout

An art installation was unveiled on 23rd July 2019 on Whitmore Roundabout, Newcastle, in recognition of a local cyclist who died last year. 

The metal cycling sculpture, featuring six cyclists in motion, was inspired by the late Brian Tomkins, former Newcastle Borough Councillor, Chair of Aspire Housing and member of the Newcastle Triathlon Club.

Brian collapsed outside his home following a bike ride in June 2018, and later sadly died in hospital. The 70-year-old, from Chapel Chorlton, is dearly missed by his wife Cherry, and his daughter Liz. 

Cherry Tomkins, a retired nurse, said: “Brian was passionate about all aspects of life. Whatever he turned his hand to he gave it his best. It was the same with his hobbies. He was a keen marathon runner and came into cycling very late and loved it. He made a lot of good friends and was very passionate about it, which is why the artwork is such a fitting tribute.” 

The art installation was designed and constructed by local social enterprise PM Training at its Artworks department in Chesterton. The sculpture consists of six cyclists in the heat of a race, with each steel plate bike spanning 8 feet in length. Artworks Apprentice Luke Steadman, 18, worked on the project along with Artworks Manager Phil Brown.

“Brian was passionate about all aspects of life. Whatever he turned his hand to he gave it his best. It was the same with his hobbies.”

Phil, from May Bank, said: “The sculpture has been a fantastic learning experience for our young apprentice Luke. Not only has he picked up useful technical knowledge and skills, but it’s also given him the opportunity to create a stunning artwork that will form a new landmark in our town, and to learn about an influential figure who had a huge local impact. 

Staffordshire-based Realise charity funded the art installation at a cost of £20,000. Realise is committed to supporting local communities through skills, jobshealth and environmental projects. The charity aims to build resilience and break down the causes of poverty in North Staffordshire. 

Will Nixon, Managing Director of PM Training and Trustee of Realise charity, said: “It’s an honour to be involved in a project that’s so close to our hearts at we are aspire. Brian was an inspiration to many of us across our group and dedicated so much time and effort to improving his community. This sculpture is a fitting tribute to a man who we loved and dearly miss.”