THE centenary of Save the Children will be marked with a new garden feature and art installation in Ellesmere.

The suffering of child refugees forced to flee their homes in war-ravaged countries will be the focus of the garden, which will be laid out alongside the mere.

It will commemorate Ellesmere-born sisters, Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton, who set up the international aid agency in 1919 to help children left starving in Germany and Austria at the end of the First World War.

Trudi Graham, the sculpture group’s artistic co-ordinator said that local children’s interpretations of the plight of refugees helped provide inspiration for the garden.

“We have thought long and hard over many months about how best to represent the values and achievements of Eglantyne Jebb who became the principal driving force in the development of Save the Children into what it is today,” she added.

“Our project has involved more than six hundred local children and when we asked them about the plight of refugees in places like Syria, Yemen and Myanmar, they responded with insightful words and pictures that were deeply touching and very impressive.

“This is the inspiration behind what people will see in Ellesmere when the art installation is completed in the spring.”

Two North Wales artists – John Merrill from Ceiriog Valley, who created the popular SShhh sculpture in Cremorne Gardens which forms part of the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail around the mere. and Nick Eames from Flintshire – have been commissioned to create sculptures close to the main entrance to Cremorne Gardens and an interactive labyrinth – which locals are being offered a chance to help design – will also form a key part of the development.

It will symbolise the harrowing, traumatic, journeys undertaken by children seeking to escape dangerous conflicts across the world over the last century.

The project will be the culmination of a programme led by volunteers from the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative.

The 18-month project has attracted grants from the Arts Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and donations from local businesses, organisations and individuals. More than 40 events and activities have been held in the past year. Within the garden, children and adults will be encouraged to follow an intricate maze leading to a figure of a lone refugee child seeking shelter. Another sculptural artwork overlooking the garden will represent the Jebb sisters in abstract form.

The labyrinth will be developed with the help of Shrewsbury-based artists Sculpturelogic and will be installed by ‘Orchardfield’, ecological groundworkers.

The final phase of the centenary project will include a seminar at Ellesmere College’s art centre on April 1 where leading speakers will examine the legacy of Eglantyne Jebb and discuss some of the issues and challenges facing Save the Children and other aid agencies in helping victims of war, famine and climate change.

Young people from local schools, colleges and regional universities are being encouraged to take part.