Newport-born actor Michael Sheen - famous for playing the parts of Tony Blair, David Frost and Brian Clough - is joining Newport City Council in plans to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Chartist uprising in the city.
Council leader Bob Bright met Michael Sheen and said he found considerable common ground on how they might work together - and with others in the Newport community - on a year-long celebration of the democratic ideas inspired by the Chartists.
The meeting followed controversy surrounding preparatory work for the long-awaited redevelopment of the city centre that included demolition of a mural commemorating the Chartists.
Bob Bright said: “The council has accepted that the difficult decision on the mural could have been better handled, but we want to move forward and we are very grateful to Michael for giving up so much time to sharing his thoughts and offering his help.
“We’re eager to make 2014 a year in which Chartism is celebrated in diverse and imaginative ways that give their ideas a contemporary relevance. At the same time, with Michael’s help, we are confident an appeal to raise funds for a permanent memorial will be successful and will generate renewed interest in Newport as the city that gave birth to Chartism.”
Michael Sheen said: "It seems like there’s already a lot of exciting ideas for what could be done to celebrate the Chartists and Newport's heritage, as well as opportunity to be inspired by their vision in addressing the challenges of the present.
“In spite of a very regrettable handling of the situation in the first place, it seems like something truly positive and, in the spirit of Chartism, truly representative, is now being made possible."
The City Council will continue its consultations on the 175th anniversary celebrations and make further announcements in the near future.
The Newport uprising was the last large-scale armed rebellion against authority in mainland Britain, resulting in the deaths of more than 20 demonstrators when troops opened fire on them. The leaders of the rebellion were convicted of high treason and sentenced to transportation for life.