Published: 08:00, 11 May 2014
The son of a passionate cycling campaigner hopes seats installed in her memory along a cycle route will inspire people to get on their bikes.
Catharine “Catha” Keegan was one of a number of cyclists commissioned by charity Sustrans to survey the section of National Cycle Route 18 between Ashford and Canterbury with the intention of making it a safer off-road, traffic-free path.
Sadly, Catha died in 1998 but her son Nick, widower Patrick and friends and fellow campaigners continued her good work, and in May 2013 a resurfaced section of the route opened between Godmersham and Chilham.
The group then decided to create a tribute to the keen cyclist and walker, and last Saturday more than 100 people met for a picnic in Chilham to mark the official unveiling of Catha’s Seat – two solid oak chairs with in-built cycle parking offering stunning views across the Stour Valley.
Nick, 29, an energy consultant who grew up in Wye and lives in London, said: “It was fun but quite an emotional day for my father and I. I made a speech that contained a lot of thank yous because so many things have come together for this project.
“The seat is not just a family memorial, it’s something everyone owns a little bit of.
“We hope it becomes a destination for people to discover or rediscover the joys of cycling or walking for either transport or enjoyment.”
Groups of supporters walked or rode to the site, opposite Chilham Castle, from Wye, Chilham and Canterbury.
Friend and fellow campaigner Sheila Webb read a moving tribute to Catha, and county councillor Andrew Wickham said he hoped the route would inspire cyclists and boost tourism.
Folk band Arlet performed, food was provided by Ripple Farm Organics in Godmersham, Wye Butchers and Delicatessen, Wye Bakery, The Wooden Spoon and Perry Court Farm in Boughton Aluph, and a lemon drizzle cake was baked to Catha’s own recipe by her husband.
Catha’s Seat, made by ARC Creative Designs in Folkestone, cost £10,000 and was funded by Nick and his father; Cllr Andrew Wickham; Ashford council; former Ashford councillor Steve Wright; and more than 60 private donations.
A Catha’s Seat Fund is being set up to help groups do cycle-related activities in the area.
For more about Catha's Seat click here.