A sign of the times: 33 year old Coates village sign to be replaced

James Neacey and his son, Colin, from Fenland Furniture in Whittlesey, who made the steel framework

James Neacey and his son, Colin, from Fenland Furniture in Whittlesey, who made the steel framework and fixings for Coates' new village sign, which is to be unveiled on Saturday. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

It’s a case of out with the old and in with the new this weekend in Coates, as the village’s 33-year-old sign is to be replaced with a new one – with a familiar face set to unveil it.

Derek Bedford, who has looked after the current village sign for over 20 years, will unveil the new one which has been donated by Coates Women’s Institute to celebrate their centenary year, this Saturday.

The sign has been designed by local artist Jeni Cairns, using an intricate type of fretwork to depict various aspects of village life.

In 2014, Jeni was invited by the RHS to create a show garden at Hampton Court flower show for sponsors ‘Metal and Arts Culture Organisation.’

The garden, called ‘A Space to Connect and Grow,’ won Gold and Best Summer Garden. During the BBC coverage TV’s Monty Don expressed his admiration for her work.

The metal framework’s support and stand has been designed and made by James Neacey of Fenland Furniture Whittlesey.

The big reveal will take place this Saturday at 2pm, and Mayor of Whittlesey, Alex Miscandlon and Deputy Mayor Ralph Butcher are among those who have been invited to join WI members and Mr Bedford for the event.

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Jill Anthony, the Coates WI’s vice-chairman said: “It’s right that Derek should unveil it. Not only has he been keeper of the old sign, three years ago he was chosen to be Coates’ Citizen of the Year for all the work and support he has given to the village.

“He has looked after the sign for all these years. This has meant taking it down to be re-varnished every three years.

“Eventually it began to rot and a gentleman in the village who wished to remain anonymous offered to pay for the wood if Derek was willing to make a new one, which he did.

“Last year he was about to take it down again for renovation when we offered to present the village with a new one in celebration of the Women’s Institute centenary year.”

Money for the new sign has been raised for the last six months, with fundraisers collecting £560 to add to £500 donated by Whittlesey Town Council.