Eve Shepherd…

The Last Post Statue – Henry Allingham

“The Last Post Statue”

A bronze of Henry Allingham to be placed at the National Arboretum, by the sculptor Eve Shepherd.
To produce a lasting memorial sculpture commemorating and celebrating the lives of those who fought and survived World War One, and lived with the memory of those who were lost.
To be unveiled in the National Arboretum in October 2018, the centenary of the last days of the Great War.
“As the 11th hour of the 11th day struck at the Cenotaph in London… Henry Allingham, the oldest man in England, frail as one of the winter leaves whipping past him on a sharp wind, a bishop kneeling at his feet and an anxious young Air Force officer stooping over him, struggled to rise from his wheelchair to lay his own wreath in memory of the fallen he has never forgotten.’
Project Outline
Henry William Allingham (6 June 1896 – 18 July 2009) died aged 113 years and 42 days and was at the time of his death, the oldest surviving veteran of World War One, the last surviving veteran of the Battle of Jutland and the oldest ever surviving member of any of the British Armed Forces including the Royal Naval Air Service
and the Royal Air Force, of which he was a founding member.
In 2001 Allingham became the face of the First World War Veterans Association, regularly making public appearances to raise awareness of World War One and ensuring that the sacrifices made during that time were not forgotten or lost to future generations.
In 2003 Allingham helped to launch the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal where he was quoted as saying “The veterans have given all they have got for the country… I owe them…We all owe them”
Like many veterans, Allingham regularly attended The Cenotaph in London to lay commemorative wreaths, marching on foot until 2005 and then onwards in his wheelchair.
Following the death of Henry Allingham in 2009, I was inspired to create a piece of work which would serve as a permanent memorial to all who lived through World War One, acknowledging the impact war has on those who survive and the important legacy their contribution to remembrance has on future generations.
As the face of the First World War Veterans Association and the last remaining volunteer, I felt Henry Allingham an appropriate figurehead for the proposed sculpture.
The Sculpture
The 1.5 times life size bronze sculpture, depicts the elderly Henry Allingham seated in his wheelchair, saluting as he pays homage to those who fell in battle.
The poppy wreath resting on his lap, a recognisable symbol of
remembrance, whilst the poppy petals scattered around the base of the sculpture, are used to emphasise the memory of the fallen.
The sculpture will be cast in bronze, and will have an antique bronze finish, whilst the wreath and petals will be tinted red.
The figure will stand on a low stone base above the ground, emphasising a connection to the everyday soldier / viewer and making the sculpture very accessible to all.
Installation will ideally be by the end of the second week in October 2018, around the centenary of the last days of the Great War. We hope the unveiling will be done by Prince Harry.
In 2009 when the original model was made, both the National Arboretum and Whitehall expressed a keen interest in the project and the piece was commended by the then Minister of Defence The Rt. Hon Bob Ainsworth.
However, at the time, funding for the project was unavailable and several other events led to the project being placed on hold.
I felt the need to reawaken discussions on the progression of this project, as it was becoming increasingly urgent should the project be realised within the timescales needed.
The National Arboretum have now decided to put the bronze at the foot of the staircase of the new Remembrance Centre, with Henry Allingham saluting towards the main War Veterans Memorial.
I am thrilled that this project will now come to fruition.

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