An Angel Sculpted To Stop Violent Crimes


If you go up to Guildford Cathedral this month, you can look at the remarkable Knife Angel. What does the expression on the Knife Angel’s face say to you, and the position of its palms? Standing 27’ high this metal sculpture, made out of over 100,000 knives donated by Police Forces around the country to the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, is a powerful piece of art. It took Alfie Bradley two and a half years to make, all the knives being sterilised before being used in its construction. It has been erected in 35 towns or cities in England and Wales. At the Cathedral on the evening of 1st March, a Reception took place to herald its arrival.

The Dean of the Cathedral, Dean Dianna Gwilliams, welcomed over 300 people before Clive Knowles, the man behind the statue’s creation, talked about how it came into existence. Its aim is to raise awareness of the dangers of violent behaviour and to warn people, the young in particular, against carrying a knife or being violent to anyone. The Head Boy and Head Girl of Christ’s College School Guildford, have produced a short video that was available to be watched in the Cathedral. They also addressed all present about what their generation thinks about violence and stated their strong support for the Knife Angel, impressing everybody by the clarity of what they said.

The High Sheriff spoke about the terrible consequences of violence, which leave not just the physical scars but mental ones. Furthermore, he said the relatives and friends of victims also suffer grievously when a loved one is seriously injured or killed. Lives are often ruined, and it should be more widely known, particularly by young persons, what are the consequences of going out with a knife. Long prison sentences are imposed for stabbing someone and often immediate imprisonment for being in possession without a reasonable excuse of a bladed article at least 3” long. If a person dies from being stabbed, the perpetrator will face the prospect of a sentence of 20-25 years. 

He also thanked the High Sheriff Youth Awards supporters who were present with their stall. The HSYA charity raises funds that are given as grants of up to £5,000 each to projects which will help to keep safe young people in Surrey. Crimestoppers, the charity based in Surrey which receives over 600,000 anonymous phone calls a year about possible offences, had a large van outside the Cathedral, publicising what it does. It sends over 150,000 reports to the Police and this results in many offenders being brought to justice. 

Julie Sommerville courageously and very movingly spoke about the death of her son after he was stabbed in broad daylight in Guildford by another young man after a car chase. She described the impact upon her and her family on the day of his death, and how it has permanently changed their lives. It is in his memory that she is prepared to speak about what happened, in the hope that it helps prevent others having to know the pain and sorrow such a death brings. That is why she has supported Knife Angel since Clive Knowles first contacted her. 

The Reception and addresses inside the Cathedral were followed by a Pipe Band from Gordon’s School leading everyone outside to witness the statue being illuminated. It is an impressive sculpture, skilfully made, and in the facial expression of the Angel can be seen sorrow and pathos; and maybe the palms are asking ”why?”. The Knife Angel conveys a message of non-aggression, peace and love for one’s fellow human beings.

Throughout March there are events linked to the Knife Angel:

Sunday 5 March Choral Evensong celebrating Knife Angel.

Thursday 9 March “Street Strong – Street Safe Training”. Dean Coady, a former soldier and police officer will give talks to 11-18 year olds at the Cathedral.

Monday 13 March Guildford After Dark at 2pm and 6pm. A panel of 4 at the Cathedral, talking about the town at night.

Wednesday 15 March The Rock Choir Fundraising Concert at the Cathedral.

Monday 20 March Talk by Dr Neville Lawrence OBE at Christ’s College School, Guildford.

Tuesday 21 March The Court of the Future at the School of Law, University of Surrey.

Thursday 23 March Installation of the High Sheriff at Evensong and Presentation of Prizes for Art.

Thursday 30 March Farewell Event at the Cathedral.