BOURNEMOUTH heroes have been immortalised in steel portraits on a national cycle route.

AFC Bournemouth fan and ambassador John ‘Nonny’ Garard and Dr Jane Goodall DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace were chosen by the community.

The pair were chosen after residents were invited to have their say on who had made a positive impact in the community in the last seven decades, celebrating the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Nonny was best known for leading chants of ‘Red Army’ home and away. Born deaf and with a degenerative eye condition, he supported members of the disabled community, working with the football club to improve accessibility.

He sadly died in 2021.

Neil, John’s brother-in-law, said: "We are thrilled and proud with the larger than life steel statue of John (Nonny), now installed in Bournemouth's Central Gardens.

“We are grateful to the Sustrans team, as well as the talented sculptors Katy and Nick, for this breath-taking statue in John's memory.

“It is both a permanent reminder of John, who was taken from us far too soon, as well as a symbol of unity and togetherness, particularly through the Cherries fan base. I hope John's statue will continue to bring people together.

“Everyone who knew him, had a story to tell, and every story ended in a smile.

“John achieved so much on improving inclusivity, working with AFC Bournemouth as well as the University of Southampton, in improving quality of life for the disabled. We are thrilled he will be remembered in this way.”

The other portrait represents Dr Jane Goodall, world renowned ethologist and conservationist.

She is known for her ground-breaking studies of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania.

She founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977 with 25 institutes now around the world.

The Institute's free Roots & Shoots programme aims to empower young people to become involved in projects to make a difference to their local communities, animals, and the environment.

Dr Goodall said: “I was surprised and honoured to be featured in this project. I first came to Bournemouth, with my mother and sister, when WW2 broke out.

“I would climb trees, and spend hours watching the squirrels, birds and insects who lived there, and with my dog Rusty exploring the Chines, and swimming in the sea.

“Bournemouth is where I come between my tours around the world raising awareness about the harm we have done to the natural world, and how important it is that we should take action to help to heal the environment before it is too late.

“I hope that those who see the portrait bench will be keen to find out more about our work at the Jane Goodall Institute UK. And I certainly hope to visit when I am next back in Bournemouth.”

The figures were unveiled on October 5 by Sustrans on National Cycle Network Route 25, in Bournemouth Central Gardens.

They are two of 30 life-sized steel figures nationwide, designed by artists Katy and Nick Hallett, funded by the Department of Transport.