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Covid the Cobra

An extraordinary Stevenage story...

The first stone of Covid the Cobra - a head!

Send us a picture of your stone and the story behind it, and we'll add it to our Cobra website!

During the first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic, in May 2020, something extraordinary happened in Stevenage...

The Parnell family - Dawn, Eddie & Owen - decided to paint some stones and lay them outside their home on Grace Way, inviting others to do the same...

Over the next few weeks, 'Covid the Cobra' - as he came to be known - grew...and grew...and GREW!!!

By July 2020, Cobra had grown to 10,085 stones, each one hand-painted by a different member of our community.

Covid the Cobra brought the whole Stevenage community together at a time when we had to stay apart. It was very moving to see so many people coming out to Grace Way each day to admire the stones and add their own to the tale/tail!

There were stones celebrating the NHS and other frontline workers...stones for our schools, stones for our families...stones saying Love Is Love, stones saying Black Lives Matter...stones for a friend, stones for someone we'd lost...


Our stones sat side-by-side even if we couldn't, and Covid the Cobra became the most extraordinary feat and symbol of love, community and togetherness during a very challenging time.

A stone from Covid the Cobra featuring a rainbow and the words 'Stevenage 2020'

Cobra Continues...

The stones were collected up in July 2020 and Cobra went to sleep for a while (in a local garage!)

But the tale wasn't over...

Everyone who was part of Cobra wanted him to see him return in some form, to honour this amazing creation by our whole Stevenage community.

Alongside the Parnell family and the Community Development Team at Stevenage Borough Council, Junction 7 Creatives came on board to help devise ways the stones could once again take their place in our town - this time in a more lasting form.

This has been no small challenge, since there are SO many stones to work with, and like any outdoor / public art project there are many factors to consider in terms of location, durability, aesthetics, cost etc.

We explored lots of potential approaches...from a 'Cobra Garden' to contemporary sculpture, to experiments with gabion cages, cement pavers, epoxy resin and more! You can see a glimpse of some of our investigations below...

A collage of images of Junction 7 Creatives and friends trying out approaches to creating lasting installations out of the Cobra Stones.

Eventually we landed on the following design approaches to bring a beautiful selection of the stones back to Grace Way and beyond in this chapter of Cobra's story...

If you'd like to get involved with our work celebrating and commemorating Covid the Cobra, please contact us on / 01438 487017.

Cobra Stories


Share your Cobra story

If you have an image of your original Cobra stone, please send it to us via WhatsApp on 07854 426247, or email us here.

Huge thanks to everyone who brought Covid the Cobra to life in 2020 - and to everyone who has supported the project since.

Special thanks to:

Dawn, Eddie & Owen Parnell

Everyone who donated to the crowdfunding campaign for Cobra Continues

Everyone in the Community Development, Green Spaces and Engineering teams at Stevenage Borough Council

Stevenage Works

Cllr Roni Hearn and Michael Hearn

Cllr Jim Brown (Deputy Mayor 2023-24)

Cllrs Jeanette Thomas

Cllr Lin Martin-Haugh

Cllr Maureen McKay

Cllr Myla Arceno (Stevenage Mayor 2023-24)

Szylk Wane

Kerry Lanigan and Nysa Projects

Derek Howarth

Nick Gearing of NJ Garden Services

Graham Henderson of Signature CNC

Trevor Herbert, Liam Manson, James Ward and everyone at Junction 7 Creatives

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