A CAMPAIGN launched by The Northern Echo to remember a Canadian Second World War hero has been endorsed by an organisation promoting the country's history.

The Historica Foundation of Canada will send its executive director, Dr Tom Axworthy, to the unveiling of a statue of Andrew Mynarski at Durham Tees Valley Airport, on Saturday.

Pilot Officer Mynarski was killed, aged 27, after trying to save the life of his friend, Pat Brophy, when their Lancaster bomber was hit by German fire on a mission over France.

The plane set out from the airport, then the Royal Canadian Air Force base, at Middleton St George, near Darlington, on June 12, 1944.

The Echo's Forgotten Hero appeal aimed to raise £40,000 for a bronze statue of Mynarski, who received this country's highest military honour, the Victoria Cross, after his death, but for whom there was no lasting memorial in the region.

The final total received, thanks to generous readers and a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, was more than £76,000.

Morwenna White, from the Historica Foundation, in Toronto, said people in Canada were ecstatic to see Mynarski's heroism finally recognised in the North-East.

She said staff at the foundation had followed the campaign's progress online on The Northern Echo's website, www.thisisthe northeast.co.uk.

"Dr Axworthy is becoming increasingly thrilled at the prospect of coming to the unveiling on June 4," she said. "He used to go to the Andrew Mynarski School, in Winnipeg."

The Historica Foundation made a mini-movie about Mynarski, lasting a minute, earlier this year. The film, featuring a dramatic reconstruction of him struggling to free his trapped friend from the Lancaster's rear gun turret, was shown on national Canadian television and DVD copies of it were given out at the opening of the Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa, on May 8.

Copies will be presented to pupils from Middleton St George Primary School, which is benefiting from the extra cash raised by the Forgotten Hero appeal, and others attending Saturday's ceremony, at the St George Hotel, at the airport, at 11am.

Ms White said: "We rebuilt the entire mid-section of a Lancaster bomber in order to shoot the piece."