Fens couple design woodland trail sculptures for a National Trust property in the Lake District

Rusty Rooster Steve and Sara Raven

Rusty Rooster Steve and Sara Raven - Credit: Archant

A couple who make rustic garden ornaments have been asked to design a set for a special Easter woodland trail at a National Trust property in the Lake District.

Steve Raven of Rusty Rooster with one of his metal barn owls before it has been rusted

Steve Raven of Rusty Rooster with one of his metal barn owls before it has been rusted - Credit: Archant

Steve Raven, 39, retired from his family arable farming business in 2015 because of deteriorating health from diabetes, diagnosed when he was a young child.

He went from a hectic life, farming land across March and Emneth, to wondering how to fill his time.

What started as a hobby is now fast turning into a successful business venture for him and his wife Sara, 38, who run Rusty Rooster.

Sara, who designs the pieces for their company, said: “Steve was always a workaholic, always busy, but the diabetes meant he was worried about his well being and about spending time with the family.

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“However, on retiring early he couldn’t sit still.

“We made some ornaments for our own garden and people loved them so we began making them for family and friends.

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“It grew from there. In 2016 we went to St Ives market where the pieces were really popular. Now we go to shows like the flower show at Sandringham, Norwich and the national flower show coming up in Colchester.

“It is a great sociable way to run a business, we see customers returning, we get to chat to people, the children come with us to the shows and we all get to spend quality time together as a family.”

The couple have been commissioned to make barn owls, birds, a grass snake, a salmon, a dragon fly and a grey crested newt for Acorn Bank for a special woodland trail open to families throughout March and April.

The pieces are cut from new metal to which they add a special formula so they rust within a week.

“This style is getting really popular,” Sara said. “There’s an industrial feel to a lot of art and sculptures at the moment, it’s a more natural look.”

Acorn Bank, near Penrith, dates back to the 13th century. The first owners were the Knights Templar in 1228.

In 1543 it was acquired by Thomas Dalston, a local landowner, and remained in his family until the 1930s.

The site, with its 180 acres of park and woodland, was given to the National Trust in 1950 by Dorothy Una Ratcliffe, the Yorkshire writer, traveller and art collector.

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