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Memorial to the Bravery of Animals in Wartime

Event, Morley, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Article By: Dave Roberts

First Published: 25 April 2011

How often heroes of wartime are overlooked, ignored, taken for granted, even pushed aside or forgotten. When a human being puts their all on the line for our country and our freedoms, it is only right that they should be rewarded with medals. When they are injured or even worse - killed, they may never know how much they are appreciated.

Every Armistice Day our nation rightly remembers those who gave their lot so that the rest of us can enjoy the freedoms of democracy, but how many of us even stop to think about the animals who serve us in battle. That is indeed just what Julie Taylor Radcliffe from Morley did. So moved was she by the heroics and sacrifices of animals that she contacted Cllr. Judith Elliott at Morley Town Council, her suggestion was that a lasting memorial should be created to remember animals lost in military service.

Cllr. Elliott a local stalwart of the Morley community, and also Chairman of the Morley Murals Committee, was in total agreement. She took the idea to the committee and they agreed to move Julie's idea forward.

Melanie Wilks, a well known talented sculptor put forward a drawing which was approved, the ball was then set rolling to raise the money needed to proceed.

Julie advertised locally for people to donate goods to be sold at Car Boot Sales, with the generosity of Morley folk in abundance, the donations came in thick and fast. Then along with her sisters, Julie worked hard to raise the initial funding, the rest of the capital was donated by the Morley Murals Committee.

Leeds City Council's Parks Department assisted and agreed that the Statue should be erected in Dartmouth Park, Morley. Then Melanie got to work on the piece.

On Thursday 14th April 2011, at 2pm, I was invited to witness the dedication of the Sculpture of Animals depicting a horse, dogs and pigeons which was officially unveiled by The Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Dr Ingrid Roscoe.

Dr Ingrid Roscoe is the perfect person for this official occasion, not only because of her title: Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, she is also an animal lover, with a doctorate in British sculpture and her father a wartime squadron-leader in the RAF, she could relate to all aspects of the event. Her natural charm and warmth made her presence popular with the local people she greeted as they gathered to witness the event.

In attendance were several local dignitaries, serving and ex-forces personnel along with representatives from Morley Branch of the British Legion including Simon Brown. Simon was seriously wounded in Iraq when he was shot in the face by a sniper, he has naturally had to deal with his own personal challenges and experiences, he told me that he was proud to be attending the ceremony.

Now Morley's Dartmouth Park is not only a place for people to stroll, play and rest. It is a place for those who wish to gather in remembrance of the reluctant heroes of war - the animals of the Armed Forces. Dartmouth Park and this spectacular sculpture by Melanie Wilks take their place in our nation's history due to the efforts of people such as Julie Taylor Radcliffe, the people of Morley and of course the animals serving in our Armed Forces.





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