Jan’s spectacular 'squid bench' officially opened at Coombe Country Park


The beautiful grounds of Coombe Country Park near Coventry now feature a stunning woodland seat designed by one of Warwickshire College’s Furniture Crafts students, Jan Waterston.


Students from the college’s Leamington centre were invited to take part in a challenge to get out of the workshop and into the woods to design a memorial bench to fit in with the leafy surroundings of the park.  The bench is a memorial to the parents of Keith Sealey from Lutterworth-based furniture makers, Sealey Furniture.


Jan Waterston squid bench


Jan Waterston’s winning design, chosen by Keith and Joe Taylor, Coombe Abbey Country Park manager, was an innovative project known as the “Squid Bench”. The bench has taken around four months to create and install in the park and was officially opened to the public at an event on Thursday 11 July.


You can view a ‘making of’ video of the project here.


Jan, who is from Birmingham, has also recently won the college’s Andrew Varah Award for the outstanding furniture-making student and has been nominated for the Alan Peters Award at the Cheltenham Celebration of Craftsmanship. In September, he will be going to Rycotewood Furniture Centre to continue his studies at degree level.


Jan said: “I’m over the moon with how the bench has turned out. It’s been a lot of hard work and we’ve encountered a few challenges on the way, but we found solutions with the support of everyone involved. It’s been a fantastic project to work on and I hope Keith is as proud of the bench as I am and that all the visitors to the park enjoy using it.”


Keith said: “Not only is there a seat left as a legacy to my parents, but it has given a group of students the opportunity to design something that will be made, and for Jan, tools to last a lifetime and the opportunity to make his design a reality.


“Needless to say none of this would have been possible without the enthusiastic support, advice and sheer hard work of Coombe Country Park and Warwickshire College.”


Keith Sealey and Jan Waterston


Tutor Jamie Ward said: “Thanks to Joe and to Keith for allowing us to take part in such a great project. As a Gazelle college, we are committed to getting our students involved in real world projects, and this has been a fantastic experience for Jan – especially today seeing the bench being enjoyed by the public. He deservedly won the college’s outstanding student award this year, and we wish him every success for his future as a furniture-maker.” 


Warwickshire College offers a whole range of full and part-time furniture making, wood machining and wood turning courses.  For further information click here or call 0300 45 600 49.