Bottle-top art tribute to volunteer Sandra George

Helen Stephenson and Mark Carr cast their eyes over the artwork. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Helen Stephenson and Mark Carr cast their eyes over the artwork. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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A COMMUNITY stalwart who set up a treasured facility for young people has been immortalised in a towering artwork made out of old bottle tops.

Sandra George, who lost her battle with cancer last summer, founded the Niddrie Community Youth Group in 2009.

Now a colourful image of the enthusiastic volunteer has pride of place in Craigmillar Library in celebration of her contribution to the area.

The unusual artwork features Ms George with a background of the Saltire and the Jamaican flag, in a nod to her Caribbean family connections.

It was created by Mark Carr of the Craigmillar Arts and Environment Project (CAEP).

His creation, which took several months to complete and is comprised of 450 bottle tops, was part of a wider art project. The overall initiative saw thousands of bottle tops collected in Craigmillar by the CAEP, which is part of Craigmillar Community Arts (CCA).

The project was designed to divert the items from landfill, as the city council does not accept bottle tops in its household plastic recycling.

Ms George, who was 56, had battled liver cancer for several years and received treatment at the Western General, but she died in August 2013.

The Tollcross resident had been working with the Hunters Hall housing co-operative to provide youth services when she founded the Niddrie Community Youth Group as a charity in 2009 to help provide a range of resources, from music groups to sports activities.

Her friends described Ms George, who was originally from Birmingham, as a keen photographer with a passion for supporting young people.

Mr Carr said: “It was about 20 years ago that I first met Sandra in Tollcross doing youth work. She was taken far before her time. She lived a very healthy lifestyle, she didn’t drink or smoke.

“She was very brave and never complained. It seemed like she was trying to get as much done in the time she had left. That was part of the reason I wanted to do a tribute to her.”

Craigmillar community councillor Paul Nolan said: “If you were going to do something about her, it would be something like that. A bit different, unique and unusual.”