Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:22 UK

RAF hero statue for Fourth Plinth

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

A statue of RAF hero Sir Keith Park is to be unveiled on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square next month.

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

The temporary fibre glass sculpture will be in place for six months from 4 November and replaces Antony Gormley's One and Other art project.

For the last 100 days, members of the public have occupied the plinth as "living sculptures".

A separate permanent bronze statue of Park will be erected in Waterloo Place on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain on 15 September 2010.

The design by sculptor Les Johnson will be used for both the temporary 5m (16.4ft) statue in Trafalgar Square as well as for the 2.78m (9ft) permanent memorial in Waterloo Place.

The unveiling of the the statue follows pressure by the Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign to honour New Zealander Sir Keith.

Campaigners originally called for a permanent statue of Sir Keith to be erected in Trafalgar Square.

'Enormous debt'

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 predominantly for contemporary art.

Mr Johnson said London owes "an enormous debt to Sir Keith Park".

"Having a temporary memorial to this great hero in Trafalgar Square in time for the 70th anniversary of a historic turning point is our way of showing gratitude for the bravery and commitment he showed to London and the world," he added.

RAF Marshall Lord Tedder said Sir Keith "saved the world".

"If ever any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I don't believe it is recognised how much this one man, with his leadership, his calm judgement and his skill, did to save not only this country, but the world," he said.

Sir Keith Park's statue will be followed on the fourth plinth by Uinka Shonibare's Ship in a Bottle, which will be installed in May 2010.



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