Meet unique athletes at the Royals Shopping Centre!
18th May 2012
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Meet unique athletes at the Royals Shopping Centre!

Awe-inspiring life-sized models of athletes are currently on display at the Royals Shopping Centre in Southend.

The models can be found poised for action at Unit 19 in the Centre, and are made out of willow, a wood which is supple and strong just like the real-life sporting heroes.

Among the figures on display are a canoeist, a wheelchair tennis player, a discus thrower, two relay runners, a mountain biker and a javelin thrower.

The eye-catching artworks were commissioned by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and created by Agata Mantaj from the Council’s Parks Team to celebrate London 2012.

They are there to remind residents and visitors of their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved in London 2012 at both the cultural and sporting level.

As well as displaying the athletes the shop unit is open on Mondays to Thursdays from 9.30am until 3.30pm and Fridays from 9.30am until 2.30pm – to help promote the spectacular ‘Sparks Will Fly – Southend’ event on the 23rd June.

The event is part of an Essex-wide cultural extravaganza in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games

Residents can volunteer to assist in the shop and do their bit to help advertise ‘Sparks Will Fly – Southend’ event by contacting 01702-215641

The Southend Carnival Parade, which runs from Southchurch Park to City Beach on the sea front, will be central to the celebration. 

It will be led by Marina Mightier, one of two giant ‘Champions’ chosen as ambassadors for ‘Sparks Will Fly’ and will include a ‘colour party’ of 50 dancers from Shoeburyness High School and the Southend Air Cadets Marching Band.

Upon arriving at City Beach she will be presented with a special commemorative glass bead by the Worshipful the Mayor of Southend, Councillor Sally Carr.

Marina and her fellow champion Boreas Zephyr will be collecting glass beads representing every district and borough in Essex as they tour the county throughout May and June. The beads will take centre stage at the culmination of ‘Sparks Will Fly’ in Chelmsford’s Hylands Park on the evening of July 6th, the day the Olympic Torch Relay visits the county.

That is when Marina and Boreas will use them to play ‘The Game’, pitting their strength against each other as they conjure up the beads of wind, water and fire in a spectacular fiery showdown.

As well as embracing this year’s carnival ‘Sparks Will Fly – Southend’ will feature a whole range of other cultural and sporting activities.

Selected acts from the Leigh Folk Festival will break away from the main performance areas in Leigh-on-Sea to appear at Warrior Square Gardens.

Southchurch Park will play host to the ‘Urban Games’ and a number of unique opportunities for people of all ages to try basketball, football, climbing, tennis, gymnastics, dance and aerobics. Southend Marine Activities Centre on Eastern Esplanade will be offering free water sports taster sessions in sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing and kayaking.

A ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition will take place where local groups will have a promotional video of themselves performing uploaded onto the Southend Festival Facebook page.

The winner will also get the chance to perform at the UK’s biggest independent festival, Brownstock, whose stage was graced last year by the likes of Example, Pendulum and Athlete.

Other attractions will include:

A 5km race

the ‘Whacky Walk’

‘Learn to fish’ taster sessions from Southend Pier

the ‘Busking Out’ street performance festival and

an RNLI Open Day


Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Executive Councillor for Culture and Tourism, Councillor Derek Jarvis, said: “There is already huge buzz about London 2012, especially here in Southend, and these wonderful willow figures are another sign to show that the Olympic countdown is truly on. 

“Sparks will Fly is going to be an extra special event in Southend Saturday June 23rd with something for everyone to do on the day – ranging from sports to new outdoor activities, music and dancing performances of all kinds. This is Southend’s way of warming up for the arrival of the Torch Relay on July 6th so make sure you join in the fun!”

‘Sparks Will Fly – Southend’ is being co-ordinated by the Southend Summercare Carnival, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, South Essex College, Leigh Folk Festival and Essex County Council. For a full list of the day's events and times visit 


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Claire T

Member since: 10th July 2012

I am the very proud owner of thebestofsouthend. My aim is to really shout about why Southend is so great & champion our local business owners who do a really great job!
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