Celebrating Surrey Cycle Sculpture 
- Leaves: a lot to the imagination -

20th July 2012

There are certain ideas that just capture the public imagination. Councillor Caroline Salmon's cycle sculpture was one of those. As soon as I saw her Tweet, seeking sponsors for a sculpture to commemorate cycling in Surrey, I was hooked.

On further investigation, the idea was as simple as it was elegant.  Local people were being offered the opportunity to buy one of three hundred steel oak leaves that would be assembled to form the figures of two cyclists and positioned near the foot of Box Hill.

My husband and I are keen mountain bikers and cycling is a fundamental part of our lifestyle. It being our fifth wedding anniversary in July, with a theme of steel, Councillor Caroline's leaf sponsorship scheme was serendipitous. It provided a perfect opportunity to mark our own special occasion by contributing to a wonderful local community project to mark this historic year of the Queen's diamond jubilee, Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France victory and the London Olympics.

I clicked through from @CllrCaroline’s Tweet to read more about the project, spoke to the good lady herself and a few weeks later received leaf number 13, just in time for our anniversary.

So we were extremely excited to be invited to the unveiling of the sculpture on July 17th, just three days before the Olympic torch was due to be carried through Dorking on its relay route to Guildford and the Tower of London.

Councillor Caroline had organised a reception for the unveiling, dubbed, "lemonade in the layby". Hearing her speak, I realised that this was a feat of event management that had been timed to perfection.

By her own account, the idea of installing a cycle sculpture had come to Ms Salmon back in November 2011, when she was looking for a way to commemorate the momentous year of 2012 in her role as chairman of Mole Valley District Council.

In the space of five months Caroline Salmon sought and won planning permission for the installation at the Denbies/Pixham Lane roundabout and found the sculptor, Heather Burrell, to carry out the work. She then got to work using local and social media to promote her project.

Marketing experts talk about the four Ps: product, price, placement, promotion. Councillor Caroline’s project had all of these ingredients, which made it such a success.

Product: It pains me to label it so baldly because the sculpture is a thing of beauty, commemorating a truly historic year in British cycling. The oak leaves reflect the local woodland beauty of Surrey where many glorious trails can be found for both road cyclists and mountain bikers in Hurtwood, Holmbury St Mary and Leith Hill. The slender design recalls the groundbreaking carbon monocoque frame that steered Chris Boardman to glory in 1992.

Price: At just £40 for a leaf, Councillor Caroline offered members of the local community the opportunity to help create something of real beauty that celebrates the sport that can be enjoyed so well in this area and commemorates an historic year for the nation. Contributing to the sculpture was a perfect way to give something back to the area.

Place: Box Hill will form the most arduous section of the Olympic cycle race, with cyclists powering up the incline nine times. The Olympians will cycle by this sculpture.

The Denbies estate, which borders the sculpture, forms part of the epic Dorking Ups and Downs mountain bike route organised by Wiggle and UK Cycling Events, which celebrates everything that the Surrey Hills can offer a cyclist: the burning legs and lungs, the steep, rooty descents and the glorious unrestricted views from the tops of the Downs.

Promotion: Councillor Caroline Salmon is a lady of considerable energy and enthusiasm, who galvanises those around her. Her use of local media, social media and personal contacts in local government enabled her to pull this together in a frighteningly short time frame and ensured that a fantastic idea came to life in time for the London 2012 celebrations.

On this momentous day when London hosts the Olympic Games for the third time in its history, we wish all of our athletes the very best. We will be watching you and supporting you.