A Colchester mother whose son was murdered in a knife attack in Greenstead was instrumental in supporting the concept and design of the Knife Angel, which comes to the city this week.
Ann Oakes-Odger’s son Westley Odger was murdered in an unprovoked knife attack at a cash machine on the afternoon of 12 September 2005. He had just turned 27.
As a way of dealing with her grief, Ann became a campaigner for change and as part of that engaged with Clive Knowles, chairman of the British Ironworks Centre, which built and owns the iconic statue.
“I found Ann through the website of the charity www.knifeCrimes.org that she set up in the aftermath of her son’s murder,” said Clive.
“I invited her to the centre to meet the artist Alfie Bradley, who was working on the Knife Angel, and we discussed the inscription she would like on the knife commemorating her son.
Together they created a letter to be sent to all those that had contacted Ann through her knife crimes website, asking whether they would like to add an inscription to one of the 100,000 recovered and surrendered blades collected by police forces around the county.
“We had a tremendous response,” said Ann. “The iconic sculpture, created to raise awareness of violence in all its forms and its impact on society, serves as a memorial to victims who have lost their lives to knife violence.”
Clive added: “Since we started this project nearly 10 years ago there have been some negative voices, but the impact of the Knife Angel has been colossal nationally.
“It is, and has only ever been, the catalyst to drive greater efforts in launching youth anti-violence initiatives and programmes across the UK.
“The Knife Angel features more than 250 inscriptions from mothers and families from all over the country and we constantly receive requests to add new family inscriptions.
The 27-feet tall sculpture arrived in Colchester on 1 October and will be on display at the landmark Jumbo Water Tower, adjacent to The Mercury Theatre in the city centre, until 31 October.
A programme of activities, events, and awareness-raising campaigns is planned by Colchester City Council and its partners, aimed at raising awareness about knife crime and its impact on local communities.
Read Ann’s story and find out more about this iconic sculpture at: www.colchester.gov.uk/knife-angel/
Page last reviewed: 2 October 2023