A STATUE immortalising the sacrifices of the Durham Light Infantry took a step closer to reality today (August 20) as workers laid its foundation – and it was revealed that veterans had reached their fundraising target.
A larger-than-life bronze of a DLI bugler will be placed in front of the Town Hall in the Market Place, in Durham City.
It symbolises the moment a platoon of DLI soldiers sounded the ceasefire in Korea in 1953 from a hilltop on the frontline – the regiment’s last battle honour.
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Workers today moved in to pour concrete for the foundation as a delighted fundraising appeal co-ordinator Colonel Arthur Charlton looked on.
He said: “It is nice now to see that it is becoming a reality and that work has progressed – and we are right on schedule.
“The good news too, is that we have now hit the fundraising target of £75,000 for the statue.”
“I can now picture the statue and think and think it will be really at home here.”
Once the concrete has set the plinth will be put in place, with the statue going up on September. It will be kept under wraps until it is dedicated on September 14.
The statue mirrors one unveiled at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire in July 2012.
An appeal for the original memorial was launched after two ex-DLI soldiers – the late signaller Keith Straughier and bugler Richard Softley – visited the National Arboretum and were dismayed to find the DLI was not represented.
More than £90,000 was raised for the statue - much of it coming from Northern Echo readers.
Col Charlton said: “The support we got through The Northern Echo and from individual donations has been fantastic.
“I also want to thank all the anonymous donors I have not been able to personally write to.”
The dedication ceremony, on Sunday, 14 September, will follow the Durham Light Infantry annual Association Parade and Review in Durham Market Place, which starts at 10am.
The day will also include the DLI Reunion service in Durham Cathedral, which, this year, will also commemorate the start of the First World War.
On Saturday, Septembr 13 and Sunday, 14 September, there will be a marquee on Palace Green featuring First World War exhibitions and displays.