The lion, designed and created by Leominster-based Fetch Theatre Company with help from students at Earl Mortimer College is the brainchild of Leominster’s Cultural Consortium, the group of local artists and organisations behind the Leominster Roars project.
The lion - named after the Ukrainian capital city Kyiv - was welcomed into the Grange from the Priory Church at the Leominster Festival Family Fun Day on Saturday (June 4) and accompanied by an actor playing St Edfrith, a nod to the origin legend of Leominster which recounts the founding of the town Priory in medieval times.
A travelling monk, known as Edfrith visited pagan King Merewallhd, and while in Leominster, was approached by a lion.
Edfrith gave the lion food calming the beast and the unharmed monk went on to found Leominster Priory Church in the town.
In a piece of street theatre with a modern twist, Edfrith, played by Therese Collins offered the lion bread and local cider with help from Leominster’s Mayor Trish Marsh.
The lion was calmed and the monk called for Leominster’s prosperity which the hundreds of Fun Day participants answered with an almighty roar of whistles and cheers.
Wendy Coombey, Leominster Festival Trustee, and who chairs Leominster Roars, said: “The presence of this amazing lion puppet at the Festival Family Fun Day added a fantastic element to what turned out to be a really successful day on the Grange, despite the weather we welcomed hundreds of people who enjoyed lots of fun activities with the help of our volunteers and supporters, commented
"We hope Kyiv the lion will be a regular guest at the festival and are so proud to be involved in the Leominster Roars project.”
Accompanied by the Broseley Beats Samba Band, Leominster’s Jenny Pipes morris dancers and actors from the About Face Theatre Company the lion made his way from the Family Fun Day to the 50th birthday celebrations of Leominster Museum on Etnam Street before returning to the Priory Church for a Thanksgiving Service for the Platinum Jubilee.
Rachel Buchanan, the Leominster Roars project development officer, said: “We are building on our aims to bring culturally interesting, exciting and out of the ordinary events to Leominster for people in the town to happen across or engage with and the lion parading through town for the Leominster Festival was an amazing spectacle.
“The Cultural Consortium of businesses and organisations behind Leominster Roars have been working so hard to put together a fun-packed cultural programme and we are really excited to be seeing our plans come to fruition using the funding from Historic England”.
The 10-foot puppet has been named Kyiv after the Ukrainian capital by its creator, Andrew Purvin, artistic director of Fetch Theatre who has toured in Ukraine and wanted to honour the bravery shown by its people during the Russian invasion.
Leominster Roars is a community collective of local artists, creators, crafters, performers, event organisers and community groups supported by Leominster Festival, Leominster Town Council and Historic England.
Leominster Cultural Consortium is a community collective of local artists, creators, crafters, performers, event organisers and community groups supported by Leominster Festival and Leominster Town Council. The group will deliver on the £85,000 funding successfully secured from the High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme to promote and engage local communities in art, heritage and culture.