Wigan war memorial restored after vandal attack - and another statue joins it

The wicker monument of a First World War soldier, which was vandalised last year, has been replaced, while a sculpture of an RAF airman has also been built

Friday, 7th May 2021, 7:00 am

A war memorial wrecked by vandals in a mindless attack has been replaced – and another new statue has joined it.

The wicker monument of a First World War soldier, by the cenotaph in Atherton, was found ripped up after thugs trashed it last year.

But a new memorial has been built in its place – along with a separate wicker sculpture of an RAF airman.

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Peter Powell, treasurer of Atherton Cenotaph Memorial Project, stands next to a wicker statue

Work was completed by Sarah Gallagher, from Chester-based Twigtwisters, who specialise in making willow sculptures.

Peter Powell, the lead and treasurer of the Atherton Cenotaph Memorial Project (ACMP), organised for the work to be done.

Mr Powell, 71, said: “We were devastated when the wicker soldier was vandalised as a lot of hard work had gone into it.

“We are proud of the cenotaph and so are the people of Atherton.

From left, Peter Powell and Bob Spaine, members of Atherton Cenotaph Memorial Project, stand next to another wicker statue

“The Morrisons Leigh community champion raised money to replace the statue, which has helped as it cost £850.

“We then found Sarah from Twigtwisters.

“She did a replacement soldier and did another £950 statue for the RAF airman. She come up with a design for the propellers and made it for us.”

Mr Powell said the RAF statue now completes the set of three at the cenotaph, which also includes the army soldier and a navy one.

Atherton cenotaph

ACMP was set up a number of years ago to develop the memorial garden at the cenotaph. This was officially unveiled in 2016 and was partly paid for through Wigan Council’s Brighter Borough funding, with more than £10,000 given to ACMP.

It has also seen the creation of a memorial wall, two benches, three wicker statues, and a lectern with the history of the cenotaph.

The statues mark the completion for now of work on the cenotaph, although there are plans to put markers on some of the war graves as they haven’t got Commonwealth headstones.

Atherton councillor, Coun Stuart Gerrard praised the work which has been done.

He said: “We are so lucky to have such dedicated members and volunteers in Atherton, none more so than the RBL and RNA.

“The cenotaph has a memorial garden and now, finally a wicker statue to salute the RAF. Fantastic job.”

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