War memorial restored to former glory

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A WAR memorial marking the lives of Wigan servicemen who died in conflict has been restored in Mesnes Park.

The original statue of a Boer War soldier that once stood in the park was removed in the 1960s.

The Boer War Memorial in Mesnes Park

The Boer War Memorial in Mesnes Park

But a reincarnation of the striking figure of a soldier was unveiled this weekend, bringing to an end a long campaign by group The Friends of the Boer War memorial.

Scores of military personnel and local residents turned out in the park along with special guests the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester Mr Paul Griffiths and Mayor of Wigan Coun Billy Rotherham.

The campaign group had promised “the same pomp and ceremony that was given back in 1903 when the original statue was erected.”

And Capt James Aspinall of the Army Reserves, who played a key role alongside the group said the ceremony did not disappoint.

He said: “It has been a culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people over the years especially given we are in a time of austerity and it has all been funded by the public, as was the original statue.

“It was a very proud day for us all, not just for the Army Reserves and the Friends group, but for the whole of Wigan.

“They (the group) approached us a few years back to help them with the campaign and I have been part of the process since.

“It is important we honour our soldiers who pay the ultimate sacrifice. It is not a soldier’s choice to go to war, they do their duty for their country. And the people of Wigan have paid that price and that should be remembered just as other towns and cities have done the same.”

The original statue was removed in 1968 after becoming badly damaged by a combination of weathering and vandalism. The Friends group was established more than a decade ago with the aim to raise enough funds and to gain permission to restore the memorial to its former glory.

Members of the Royal British Legion and the Army Cadets were in attendance at the ceremony with music provided by The Royal Artillery Reserve Band.

Also known as the second South African War, the Boer War was fought between 1899 to 1902.

Capt Aspinall added that the Army Reserves and the Friends Group, for which he served as treasurer, would like to pass on their thanks to every resident and business that supported their campaign.