Page last updated at 08:21 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 09:21 UK

Two statues will honour RAF hero

Maquette of statue
Sir Keith commanded RAF squadrons during 1940 Luftwaffe attacks

Two statues of RAF hero Sir Keith Park will be erected in London following a campaign to honour him.

Sir Keith commanded RAF squadrons which defended London and the South East from World War II Luftwaffe attacks in 1940.

Westminster City Council agreed to put a permanent bronze statue of the Battle of Britain hero in Waterloo Place, central London, this autumn.

A temporary fibre glass sculpture of Sir Keith will be erected on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth for six months.

Councillor Alastair Moss said they wanted to honour Sir Keith's "huge contribution" in defending Britain.

Campaigners originally called for a permanent statue of Sir Keith to be erected on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth.

But London Mayor Boris Johnson, who supported the bid before his election, decided in June last year that the plinth would continue to be used for contemporary art.

'Great hero'

Earlier this week Mr Johnson told BBC London 94.9: "If it were down to me we would name Hyde Park 'Keith Park', or 'Park Park'.

"The man is a great hero and he does deserve a memorial."

On Thursday Westminster City Council agreed to put the 2.78m (9ft) statue in Waterloo Place and the 5m (16.4ft) temporary sculpture in Trafalgar Square.

It is fitting that the Sir Keith Park Memorial will soon stand alongside such luminaries as Scott of the Antarctic and Florence Nightingale
Westminster City councillor, Alastair Moss

Mr Moss, chairman of its planning and city development committee, said: "I feel it is important that we recognise the huge contribution Sir Keith made in helping to defend Britain, and in particular the capital, from the Nazis during our darkest hour."

He added: "Waterloo Place is already the proud home to a number of statues of heroic figures and it is fitting that the Sir Keith Park Memorial will soon stand alongside such luminaries as Scott of the Antarctic and Florence Nightingale."

Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign organiser Terry Smith said there was "wide public support" for the statues.

"I think the support is because we have got somebody who is a genuine hero and has been substantially unrecognised," Mr Smith said.

"It's touched a nerve that we haven't really respected people like Park enough."



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SEE ALSO
Profile: Sir Keith Park
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Benn supports RAF hero statue bid
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Bid for statue of RAF hero fails
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18 Apr 08 |  London

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