‘Celebratory and beautiful’: Lantern procession to welcome refugee puppet to Dover

  • Watch: ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw reports on event preparations in Dover

Hundreds of ‘beautiful’ handmade star-shaped lanterns and a giant illuminated lighthouse will celebrate the arrival of an international art project to Dover. 

Final preparations were being made this weekend for the visit by a puppet of a refugee child, known as ‘Little Amal’. 

Despite her name, the 12-foot-tall figure has been hard to miss on her 5,000 mile journey from the Turkey-Syria border to Manchester. 

She’s already stopped at dozens of towns and villages in mainland Europe and will arrive in Kent on Tuesday (19 October), with stops planned in Folkestone and Canterbury, as well as Dover.

Dozens of children and adults were busy making the final of 500 star-shaped lanterns on Sunday.

‘Little Amal’ has already visited towns in Turkey, Germany and France. Credit: ‘The Walk’ / Loft Films

Amal was built by the Handspring Puppet Company, known internationally for their animal creations for the play ‘War Horse’.

The human-operated puppet is due to arrive in Dover on Wednesday (20 October) evening, when families are being asked to gather with their homemade star lanterns in Pencester Gardens, before guiding the puppet up the hill to Dover Castle. 

There, two Syrian artists are constructing a huge interpretation of a lighthouse as the dramatic centrepiece of the town’s welcome event. One of the duo, Khaled Alwarea, told ITV News Meridian he was "really honoured" to be here in the UK to work on the project. 

The lighthouse artwork is still under construction in the grounds of Dover Castle, ready for the evening event on Wednesday.

The lighthouse structure will be covered in the handmade lanterns. Organisers hope that 500 lanterns, illuminated with tiny LEDs, will be part of the event.

Schools and local businesses have been getting involved helping make the lanterns at a series of community workshops in recent days.

Organiser Lisa Oulton told ITV News Meridian that she hopes the event will “raise awareness of the plight of refugee children through performance by bringing it down to the individual experience of one child.”

The project in Dover is backed by English Heritage, UV Labs and Future Foundry.