Ellesmere-born social reformer Eglantyne Jebb sent the inspirational message “Mankind owes to the Child the best it has to give” to the world when she wrote a set of guiding principles that has helped transform millions of lives.
Those works now form a stone carving that stands in Ellesmere's Cremorne Gardens.
It was in 1922, three years after co-founding the international aid charity Save the Children with her sister, Dorothy Buxton, that Eglantyne drafted a five-point charter that became the foundation for the historic Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
The ground-breaking document was adopted by the League of Nations in 1924, setting a benchmark for the health, welfare and education of children, and their protection from violence, abuse and exploitation.
It has since been enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally-binding international agreement supported by almost every country in the world.
To mark the centenary of Eglantyne’s visionary initiative, artist John Neilson from Llansilin, near Oswestry, has just completed a five-foot stone carving featuring her simple, but powerful message.
The eye-catching artwork, carved in Howley Park York sandstone, has been installed in the Jebb Garden alongside the Mere, close to the main entrance to Cremorne Gardens. It was commissioned by the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative, a local voluntary group, which has developed a popular sculpture trail around the Mere and other parts of the town.
The carving is the final phase of a four-year project to celebrate and commemorate the pioneering work of Eglantyne Jebb and her sister, Dorothy Buxton.
The sisters spent their childhood years in Ellesmere where they were born at The Lyth country house on the outskirts of the town, which is still home to members of the Jebb family.
The Jebb Garden also includes an abstract sculpture representing the sisters, together with a winding labyrinth path symbolising the perilous journeys taken by vulnerable refugee children fleeing war, famine and the effects of climate change. The labyrinth leads to a carved-oak sculpture featuring a refugee child trying to take shelter from danger.
The landmark community arts project has been partly-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council, England, with support from Shropshire Council, Ellesmere Town Council, local schools, businesses, voluntary organisations and individuals.
Trudi Graham, the sculpture group’s artistic coordinator said: "John Neilson has lovingly designed and created this beautiful artwork, which he hand-carved with Trevor Clarke. It is a fitting tribute to the achievements of Eglantyne and Dorothy and we’re sure it will attract the interest and attention of visitors as much as the other features in the Jebb Garden.
“With all the terrible things currently happening in our troubled world – war, famine, global warming and the plight of refugees – Eglantyne’s message and the sisters’ inspirational legacy through the work of Save the Children is as relevant now as it was 100 years ago.”