18 May 2022
Legend Pole

Kushti Bok has secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to replace the original Legend pole with a new artwork by the original carver, Gary Orange.

One of Kushti Bok’s first projects was “Wheels To Learning'', in partnership with Kingston Maurwood College, Dorchester. The project formed a long-standing relationship with the college, who have supported the organisation by providing regular meeting spaces, hosting their annual Roma Holocaust Memorial Event and have provided a permanent location for the Legend Pole.

The original Legend Pole was carved with Gypsy, Roma & Traveller motifs in 2004. The pole provided not only a focal point for gatherings, but also a memorial to those who have died on the road.

The Pole was at first sited near the main house. It was moved into the Animal Park during the change of principal and other Kingston Maurward staff, who did not know the importance of the Legend Pole. This worked well initially, until some staff changes were made. The decision was then made to have the protective wire netting removed, and to house more animals in the enclosure. When the current principal, Luke Rake, was made aware of the situation he was keen to put this right.

The new Legend Pole will be erected in the beautiful Garden Area of the college grounds, with a new plaque using capital ‘G’ and ‘T’ for ‘Gypsies and Travellers’.

Around this creation, Kushti Bok will use a range of engagement events such as traditional craft and family history workshops to strengthen existing friendships and partnerships. They will use the pole to hold community events both physically and virtually to increase connection and engagement within the Dorset Gypsy and Traveller communities.

The Chair of Kushti Bok, Betty Smith Billington, said, “This is a brilliant opportunity for all Dorset residents to become more aware of the beautiful culture and heritage of the Travelling communities”.

This project is an opportunity to collect stories and memories and share them with Dorset based repositories, so they can continue to reflect Gypsy & Traveller culture and heritage. The Legend Pole project is also an opportunity to increase involvement in Kushti Bok, gaining new supporters and committee members, and mapping a path towards further fundraising.

The Legend Pole unveiling event will take place on the 17th of July.