The names of those who lost their lives in the first and second world wars from the parish of Mitcheldean and Abenhall will be remembered for generations to come yet, thanks to a new sculpture carved in stone from the Forest of Dean.
Caroline Horwood, who founded her Gloucestershire business, Cats Eye Carving, 15 years ago after an apprenticeship at Gloucester Cathedral, is the woman charged with preserving the names.
And this summer 2021, the giant war memorial she has poured her heart into completing is due to be winched into place and officially unveiled in what will be a moving ceremony – and an end to a project that has been an emotional journey for the artist.
Ms Horwood said: ‘I have each name and a biography of each man. I feel like I know them all. Some of them were so young – as young as 16. It breaks your heart.
‘There are 37 names from the First Word War. Sixteen are from the Second World War. It is a reminder that war is also bloody and brutal.
‘This is stone from where these men would have lived and worked. It has natural holes in it which I am leaving. They look like gunshot holes.’
She said carving the stone was proving hard work, with the dust being dangerous to the lungs and eyes – a feat many of the men whose names now adorn the stone may have been familiar with, being from a district then steeped in mining.
When the stone needed to be turned from its First World War side, which bears the legend ‘At the going down of the sun…’, it took Chepstow-based Reidlifting and its crane to do the honours.
Visitors to her studio and shop at Taurus Crafts have been enthralled by the project and its place in history and followed the progress on her social media channels.
Ms Horwood, who fell in love with sculpture and carving while at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, inspired by senior stone mason, Heather Newton – moved to Gloucestershire to take up an apprenticeship at the Cathedral.
Three years after qualifying she went self-employed and has built up a business which today sees her produce everything from house names and numbers to giant commissions and even jewellery.
‘I design and hand carve The Green Man and grotesques, bookends, clocks, carved words and individual letters. I design and make sterling silver and Welsh slate pendants and earrings. All of which can be personalised for a special present,’ she said.
The grand unveiling of the Gloucestershire sculpture is due to take place on Wednesday 15 September 2021 in Mitcheldean, with anyone wanting to attend encouraged to contact the Parish Council.
By Andrew Merrell