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Park becomes a wonderland

ALICE in Wonderland has moved into a Bognor Regis park.


The famous character by Lewis Carroll has taken up residence in Hotham Park in the form of a giant wooden sculpture.


She has been joined by her companions, the White Rabbit and the Queen of Hearts to complete a trail of the skilfully-created oak features in the popular open space.


The trio were brought to life by chainsaw sculptor Simon Groves thanks to the success of the Hotham Park Heritage Trust’s country fairs.


The sculptures were unveiled on Sunday – and Alice fan Mollie Lane, six, gave them her approval.


Dressed as the Queen of Hearts, she said: “I like stories. I have read them quite a lot of times and I like the sculptures. I like everything about them.”


She and her family travelled from their Bosham home for the unveiling on one of their regular visits to the park.


Alice was revealed by Arun District Council chairman, Cllr Alan Gammon. He told the some 100 people at the ceremony: “I am very pleased to be carrying out this unveiling.


“Many years ago when my children were knee-high we got an awful lot of enjoyment out of this park – and there is much more here now than there was then.


“It’s nice to know you are enjoying the park even more than we did.”


The trust was founded in 1998 to protect the park’s heritage for future generations in partnership with Arun.


To date, the trust’s volunteers have contributed £100,000 towards improving the amenities in the park.


The three new sculptures are the latest of these projects and join the Mad Hatter’s Table unveiled at Easter 2017.


Deborah Northcott, the chairman of the trust, said: “This is the final stage of our Alice in Wonderland trail, which was the product of the past two country fairs, having been identified three fairs ago by children as their preferred choice.


“They add a bit of interest to the park. They are something that draws the eye to bring people to the park.”


The new sculptures cost £9,500 in all to add to the £9,000 for the Mad Hatter’s Table from the profits of the 2016 and 2017 country fairs.


Sculptor Simon Groves said : “I am really pleased with the sculptures. It’s not everyday I get to do work like this.


“It was one of most unusual projects. It’s good they are fictional characters because that gives me some leeway rather than being tied down to real life.”


He spent ten days creating Alice, five days on the White Rabbit and seven on the Queen of Hearts. Alice stands 8ft tall and weighs 1.3 tons, while her companions are about 5ft 6ins and weigh just under a ton.


They are all created from drawings on the raw wood on which Simon uses chainsaws, from 4ft diameter downwards, to create front and side profiles. He puts them together and adds the details.


The Suzanne Hill School of Dancing and The Bard and the Troubadour Theatre Company also entertained those present.

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