THE Knife Angel statue has arrived in Weston-super-Mare as a month of action against knife crime is launched.

The striking statue — created from 100,000 knives and blades confiscated by the UK’s 43 police forces — was designed by artist Alfie Bradley at the British Ironwork Centre as a monument against violence and aggression.

Weston is its second stop in Somerset on a nationwide tour, after spending last month in Taunton.

Throughout May, educational workshops, community awareness days, competitions, and art installation are going on to raise awareness about knife crime as a month of action run by North Somerset’s Violence Reduction Partnership.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on May 1, Mrs Webber — mother of Taunton boy Barbaby Webber who was killed in the Nottingham stabbings last year along with his friend Grace O’Malley-Kumar and school caretaker Ian Coates — said: “Given the alarming, relentless, and increasing scale of knife crime in this country its really important to acknowledge and to thank all those involved in bringing this maleficently beautiful angel and its story to Somerset.”

Said she wanted to acknowledge the “utter tragedy” of the stabbing in Hainault a day before and said it was “heartbreaking” that the 14-year-old who died in the attack, Daniel Anjorin, had attended the same school as Grace.

To the affected families, she said: “You are very much in my prayers and will remain there always, and my heart breaks for you.”

North Somerset Times: Ribbons tied to the fencing around the Knife Angel in memory of knife crime victims.Ribbons tied to the fencing around the Knife Angel in memory of knife crime victims. (Image: John Wimperis)

Also speaking, the high sheriff of Somerset said that Weston-super-Mare was not a “hotbed” of knife crime but it was important to not be complacent.

He said: “This isn’t just about reflecting on the harm that knife crime does, it is about home and optimism. And I have seen success in preventing crime.

“The knife angel here today is built on that optimism and its a reminder we can make a difference. And North Somerset has seized the opportunity to try and work to try and work to prevent a crime happening in the first place.”

James Clayton, North Somerset Council’s executive member for safety in the community, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Here in North Somerset Council, our violence reduction partnership are very proactive.

“They recognise there is an epidemic around different parts of the country and being proactive for here in Weston, because we know we are not exempt from it.”

He added that young people thinking about carrying knives had not realised what the consequences were.

He said: “Don’t carry knives, they don’t protect. They just cause misery and agony for everyone.”

In her speech, Ms Webber said: “As a family we visited Weston many times over the years. […] We are very proud to live in this county and hope that we always will be living here.

“Barney’s favourite place here in Weston was the Pier, especially the karting bit. I like the tea room at the end, and Charlie and Dave were most at home at the ice cream kiosk.

“When Barney left us to go to Nottingham Uni in September 2022 it was bittersweet.

“We missed him deeply but were so proud of him and so delighted he found a university course he enjoyed in a new city which he loved, and of course a chance to make loads of new friends and play even more cricket.

“His life was lost and his future was stolen alongside that of our hearts and souls as a family, broken by a senseless cruel premeditated knife attack at 4.04am on Tuesday the 13th of June 2023.

“Why? I’m sure that’s a question asked by the very many people who are suffering, just as we are, as victims of knife crime.

“Why him? He wasn’t dealing drugs, he wasn’t involved in gangs or in any form of altercation.

“He and his beautiful friend Grace were just walking home from a fun night out celebrating the very last week of their first year of study.

“They were just walking home.

“In fact they were less than three minutes away from the safety of Barney’s student accommodation when they were attacked.

“It’s such a cruel blow, such a terrible sliding door moment, and a horrific twist of fate. There are so many ifs and buts.

“However, the fact that Barney, Ian Coates, and Grace O’Malley-Kumar were entirely innocent victims of knife crime carried out by the monster that is Valdo Calocane is not the point I want to make today.

“The why that I want an answer to must be asked of our authorities and our government: why is the epidemic of knife crime in our country not being properly addressed?

“If you carry a knife in England and Wales and happen to be caught with it, its very unlikely you will receive more than a stern warning and possibly a confiscation.”

She added: “I’m just a grieving mother and it is crystal clear to me that this is a really serious problem that is only going to get worse.

“Knives when carried and used inappropriately must be classed as a lethal weapon. There must be stronger and more stringent rules and laws introduced, including a widening of stop and search powers.

“We must find a way to de-normalise the carrying of them. We must create a clear deterrent.

“I am fully aware that this is not a quick fix or easy solution, there are many complex reasons why knife crime is so prevalent in our society. But that cannot stop us.

“Through education, deterrence, and real accountability, we can at least begin this process.”

The knife angel will stand in the Italian Gardens until May 30.