NEW artwork to commemorate the drafting of Declaration of the Rights of the Child by Ellesmere’s social reformer Eglantyne Jebb has been commissioned for the town.
A five foot stone pillar featuring her most famous words will be completed by artist John Neilson, to celebrate the document has been has been commissioned by the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative to be placed in the Jebb Garden.
It will be sited close to two other sculptures, installed two years ago to mark the centenary of the international aid charity Save the Children, which Eglantyne and her sister, Dorothy co-founded in 1919, as children in Germany and Austria suffered starvation at the end of the First World War.
Sculpture group chairman Len Graham said the work shows that Jebb is rightly remembered as a true innovator and passionate champion for children
He added: “Although best-known for setting up the Save the Children Fund, she also campaigned relentlessly for the rights and welfare of children to be something for which everyone should take responsibility.
“This led to her drafting her the Rights of the Child, which became another lasting legacy and an international benchmark for the treatment of children.”
Soon after launching the charity in the UK, Eglantyne opened an office in Geneva to co-ordinate the distribution of food and medical supplies across Europe and beyond, through the newly-formed International Save the Children Union.
It took another two years of arguments and amendments before the document was finally adopted by the League of Nations, a forerunner of the United Nations and dubbed the Declaration of Geneva.
Eglantyne’s charter provided the basis for the UN Convention on Children’s Rights, a legally-binding international agreement signed by most countries around the world, covering the health, welfare and education of children and protection from violence, abuse and exploitation.
Trudi Graham, the sculpture group’s artistic co-ordinator, added: “In this centenary year, it’s fitting that we remember this remarkable achievement which has helped to change the lives of so many children.”
The project has been partly-funded by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, with support from Shropshire Council, Ellesmere Town Council, local schools, businesses, voluntary organisations and individuals.
The project site has been developed as the Jebb Memorial Garden at the main entrance to the Cremorne Gardens beauty spot, one of Shropshire’s most popular visitor attractions.