Artwork for VC hero soldier

A Wigan soldier given the country's highest military honour 100 years ago will have a new artwork installation at the flats named after him.

Monday, 22nd May 2017, 3:15 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:29 pm
Artist Mark Mennell, Tracey Williams from Wigan and Leigh Homes, tenants' representative Chris Brady, Thomas Woodcock VC's granddaughter Veronica Ashton and historians Tom Walsh and Terry Atherton at the spot where the new artwork will go

Artist Mark Mennell has worked with primary school pupils to produce a tribute to Thomas Woodcock, who received the Victoria Cross (VC) for his bravery during World War One.

The idea of a new memorial to him at Woodcock House in Scholes came from a kind-hearted resident there and was eagerly taken up by tenants’ representatives and Wigan and Leigh Homes along with Wigan Council.

The new piece, which will be in a prominent place at the entrance to Scholes Village facing Greenough Street, will be unveiled in September as part of the centenary commemorations of him receiving the VC.

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Woodcock, who was from Scholes, was a private in 1917 when he rescued a wounded soldier at Broenbeek in Flanders, carrying him to a farmhouse in a hail of enemy machine gun fire.

The new art piece, prepared by Springfield artist Mark with children from St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, is a striking metal sculpture and glass mosaic.

The piece is based on the pupils’ drawings, photographs of old street scenes from the Scholes area and a portrait of Cpl Woodcock.

The scheme has attracted plenty of attention, with Cpl Woodcock’s granddaughter Veronica Ashton giving her support and historian Terry Atherton, who has travelled from his home in Canada to Wigan to research the hero’s life and drum up interest in the centenary, expressing his delight at the memorial.

Mr Atherton said: “I’m thrilled this is happening and very happy for the family. Building up interest in the story is exactly what I wanted.”

Artist Mr Mennell said: “I have a personal interest in World War One so it’s a nice project to work on.

“It was great to help the children understand what a valuable contribution he made during the war and they were really interested in the VC and what it means.”