A creative 22-year-old is hoping to spread a positive message about mental health, supported by Thameslink and charity Mind, through an unusual piece of art – a miniature cow.
Bournemouth-based Alice Billington has used flowers, butterflies and the human form to convey the path to wellbeing through a cow sculpture, which is set to form part of a quirky art trail around Cambridge to attract visitors to the city, running from March 30 to June 6.
Her design was painted onto the cow after she won a competition held by train operator Thameslink, the Official Travel Partner of the Cows about Cambridge art trail, in partnership with the operator’s corporate charity and national mental health charity Mind.
Thameslink joined the Cambridge trail as the Official Travel Partner last year.
Library assistant Alice, who enjoys creating art in her spare time, said: “I was surprised to win. It’s really exciting to have my design brought to life and then to be able to go and see it and for others to see it.”
Govia Thameslink Railway last year announced it would be partnering with Mind for two years as one of its three corporate charity partners. Mind was nominated and voted for by colleagues across GTR’s Southern, Great Northern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express lines.
As part of the design competition, Thameslink donated the miniature cow to Mind for the charity’s members to design. Thameslink will also have two of its own life-size cows on display as part of the art trail, designed to highlight attractions, events and things to do in Cambridge.
GTR’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Charlotte Scallon said: “The importance of good mental health is paramount for our staff and customers, alike, so we are pleased to be working with Mind’s membership on this project with Cows about Cambridge. I am really impressed with Alice’s uplifting design, and her passion for supporting others facing mental health challenges.”
Explaining the inspiration for her design, Alice said: “In a lot of my drawing, I often use symbolic things like flowers combined with a human figure to reflect how I’m feeling. I also read a quote recently along the lines of the difference between knowing when you are mentally well or unwell is movement, in every sense of the word. And that rang true for me, so with the butterflies and with the flowers growing, it’s all coming back to the idea that to stay healthy is in some ways about keeping some kind of hopeful movement in your life.”
Alice has experienced what it is like to live with mental health problems and has recently become a volunteer with Dorset Mind. She said: “This was in many ways because a year ago I had the worst depressive episode of my life and it was really difficult to find a way to keep going. What I often felt I lacked when seeking help was feeling validated and feeling like someone took on how bad I was feeling. So, I wanted to help be part of a charity that can help do that for others, it all starts with feeling validated.”
Kate Parks, Membership Officer at Mind, said: “This was a great opportunity for our members to get creative and be involved with our partners. We’re excited to see Alice’s design come to life on the trail.”
Note to editors
For more information on Thameslink’s partnership with Cows about Cambridge, go to: https://www.thameslinkrailway.com/destinations-and-offers/where-we-travel-to/cows-about-cambridge
For information on special rail fare deals, including £2 tickets for children and discounts for group travel, visit https://www.thameslinkrailway.com/destinations-and-offers
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria