FINISH LINE: Art teacher Teresa Keeling on the Green Bridge
FINISH LINE: Art teacher Teresa Keeling on the Green Bridge

A BARNARD Castle art teacher is hoping a permanent home will be found for a beautifully decorated stone trail once it reaches the finish line so the “community’s positivity during lockdown” can remain on show.

Teresa Keeling, who has been isolating at her home in Thorngate during lockdown, used her skills as an art teacher to keep families creative, setting up as the House of Arts and Crafts.

As well as providing art and craft materials and ideas to inspire the artist in everyone, she came up with a novel way to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day in May by decorating river stones.

She then invited everyone to create the trail, starting from her home with the

goal of reaching the Green Bridge.

She said: “It was just an idea for VE Day and it grew from there. It was lovely to see so many people get involved, even the shops.

“I had hoped to get to the Green Bridge. When we got there, I thought it would be good if we could get to the other side, not really realising how far it was, and put a call out on my social media page.”

The response was overwhelming with young and old decorating their own stones, some with tributes to the NHS, others marking milestone birthdays and scenes from the dale.

There are even some which immortalise senior government aide Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip to


She added: “Some days I was having someone knock on my window every 15 minutes, asking what was the best way to decorate the stone.

“The positivity was really good for my mental health and I think for everyone who has got involved. That needs to be celebrated because it’s what makes Barney, Barney.

“It you want a good community you have to invest in it and I think we proved that we have with this and how everyone has got behind it.”

Two-and-a-half months after it was started, the trail features more than 800 individually decorated stones, and despite a number being “stolen”, is almost at the finish line.

“We only need about 20 or 30 to get to the finish line,” she said. “More are getting added all the time but there are still some going missing. I go out most nights and video them.

“I feel a bit like their caretaker. I’ve had to keep some in the window to stop them being taken.

“We’re nearly there now and it’s lovely to see so many people getting pleasures out of them.

“I had a couple of people tell me how decorating their own stones has helped them deal with the anxiety of lockdown, giving them something to focus on.

“We need one final push to get over the finish line.”

However, Ms Keeling is concerned about what will happen to the stones and believes they should be kept as an art installation to provide a window into the lockdown world of Barnard Castle in 2020.

She added: “It would be great if a company was able to provide some sponsorship, like Glaxo or Smiths so we could build a wall with them all in, somewhere central that people can visit, like The Bowes Museum or The Witham would be great.

“If the town wants them to be kept we need to do something with them otherwise they need to be given out.”