Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 13:09 UK

Statue for Sir Tasker at stadium

Sir Tasker Watkins
Sir Tasker Watkins was president of the WRU from 1993 to 2004

A memorial statue is to be built at the Millennium Stadium to honour war hero and former Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) president Sir Tasker Watkins.

It is hoped the sculpture will be erected in Cardiff by May next year, possibly on the stadium walkway, after funding was secured for it.

The assembly government and Cardiff Council are giving up to 25,000 each towards the 100,000 statue.

Sir Tasker died last September at the age of 88.

WRU president Dennis Gethin said he was hoping it would be erected on the walkway up to the stadium.

Sir Tasker was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) in World War II and later became an eminent judge.

Mr Gethin, who worked alongside him at the WRU between 1998 and 2003, said he felt a statue was a fitting memorial.

He transcended rugby and touched so many people in so many ways

Dennis Gethin

"He was without doubt one of the greatest Welshmen. He was such an inspiration and was such a help to me and so many others," he said.

"But he always had that marvellous common touch and a great sense of humour.

"He transcended rugby and touched so many people in so many ways".

"I think he'd approve of a statue. We have been in close contact with his daughter and son-in-law and we wouldn't do anything without their blessing.

"They're absolutely delighted."

Mr Gethin, along with food entrepreneur Stan Thomas Sr and his businessman son Sir Stanley Thomas, led a campaign for a statue to honour Sir Tasker,

Millennium Stadium
It is hoped the statue will be erected near the Millennium Stadium walkway.

They approached artists, who have now submitted their proposed designs for the statue, and secured funding.

"I will be disappointed if it wasn't up by May next year," said Mr Gethin.

"We would like to see it in a prominent position at the Millennium Stadium. Personally, I would prefer for it to be on the walkway leading up to the stadium, but obviously there has to be other considerations like planning permission.

"But there are so many visitors there who would have a chance to know all about Sir Tasker."

'Remarkable Welshman'

In a statement, the Welsh assembly government said: "The First Minister has agreed to provide Welsh assembly government funding towards erecting a statue in honour of the late Sir Tasker Watkins."

Councillor Mark Stephens, Cardiff Council's executive member for finance, said: "We considered it appropriate for Cardiff, as the capital city for Wales, to play its part alongside the WRU, the Welsh Assembly Government and others to honour a lifetime of achievement with the dedication of a statue to a remarkable Welshman and Freeman of the City.

"The council has earmarked up to 25,000 for this purpose".

Sir Tasker, who was born in Nelson, Caerphilly, was awarded the VC by King George VI in 1945 following his outstanding bravery and leadership during World War II.

Knighted in 1971, he became the only Welshman to hold the post of Deputy Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and was president of the WRU for 11 years.

Memorial service for Sir Tasker
01 Dec 07 |  South East Wales
Hundreds for Sir Tasker funeral
15 Sep 07 |  South East Wales
Sir Tasker - the modest VC holder
10 Sep 07 |  South East Wales
War hero Sir Tasker Watkins dies
09 Sep 07 |  South East Wales
'Superb gallantry' of Sir Tasker
09 Sep 07 |  South East Wales
WRU president steps down
30 Jul 04 |  Welsh
Sir Tasker given freeman honour
12 Apr 06 |  South East Wales


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