Memorial To Animals Lost in War
Article by: Dave Roberts - First Published: 8 November 2011
On the 25th April this year (2011) I was delighted to be invited to the enchanting Dartmouth Park, Morley. Winter passed and Spring most definitely in the air. The fruit trees were already renewing their annual show of colourful blossoms.
Had I just wandered un-expecting into the park - there were a few tell tale signs that something unusual was about to take place. A PA system playing sombre military music, smartly dressed people quietly chatting were starting to gather in small groups, then a Landrover towing a horse-box appeared, it parked in the street just to the side of the main entrance gate. In the centre of a freshly planted bed of Primula, a white veil covering something tall underneath. All these things would have caught my irrepressible inquisitive nature, leaving me no alternative but to stay and see what was occurring.
Needless to say, I was well aware that preparations were being made for the unveiling of yet another wonderful piece of public sculpture by local artist Melanie Wilks. Melanie now has several pieces of sculpture on display around the town of Morley, including the famous Ernie Wise piece, plus The Miner and The Weaver which stand directly outside the front of Morley town hall. All are sculpted from locally quarried stone.
This piece though is very different from all of the other sculptures around Morley, it was a war memorial about to be unveiled by Her Majesty the Queen's representative - the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Dr Ingrid Roscoe.
Why? you might ask, doesn't Morley already have a War Memorial?
Indeed it does, there is already a memorial garden in Morley, complete with a memorial wall and a very impressive sculpture there too.
So why should Morley have yet another memorial sculpture right in the entrance to its most popular park? Quite simply, this one is unique, it is a war memorial, but a memorial dedicated entirely to the bravery of animals. Regardless of your stance on the subject of war, these reluctant heroes often give their lives so that we humans can be spared, it was this bravery that moved local woman Julie Taylor Radcliffe to campaign for a memorial dedicated to animals that have served our forces throughout our troubled history.
Julie first contacted local Cllr. Judith Elliott at Morley Town Council with her idea, her suggestion was that Morley should have a lasting memorial created, dedicated to these animals lost in military service. Cllr. Elliott, known for her enthusiasm in the town, is also Chairman of the Morley Murals Committee, she was in complete agreement. She took the idea to the committee and they agreed to move Julie's suggestion forward.
It was decided to ask local sculptor Melanie Wilks to work on the plan, she submitted her visualisation in a drawing which was approved by the committee, and the ball was set rolling.
Now Julie demonstrated the will and determination needed to see this commitment through, along with her sisters she worked hard to raise the initial funding via publicity campaigns in the local press and car boot sales. The rest of the funding donated by the Morley Murals Committee. Dr Ingrid Roscoe was requested to officially unveil the sculpture, and being delighted to do so, is the perfect official for this memorable occasion, not only because of her title: Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, but she herself is an animal lover. Dr Roscoe also holds a doctorate in British sculpture and her father was a wartime squadron-leader in the RAF. Her natural warmth and ability to relate to every aspect of the occasion charmed the people of Morley as she greeted the gathering witnesses to this unique event. In attendance were several local dignitaries, including serving and ex-forces personnel along with representatives from Morley Branch of the British Legion.
Should you just wander un-expecting into Morley's Dartmouth Park, take a few moments with Morley's unique war memorial to the bravery animals.
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