HUGE local support means a campaign for a statue to Canadian war hero Andrew Mynarski in his home city will go ahead.

Campaigners hoping to erect a statue of Pilot Officer Mynarski in Winnipeg, Canada, met on Wednesday evening to formalise their fundraising plan.

The meeting was attended by more than 30 people from different organisations, including local and national government.

The Canadian Aviation Historical Society was inspired by The Northern Echo's Forgotten Hero campaign, which raised more than £76,000 to erect a statue to Mynarski at his old air force base, now Durham Tees Valley Airport, near Darlington.

Organisers are confident they will be able to raise the necessary £30,000 for the statue to be completed next year.

Bill Zuk, of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society and Manitoba Aviation Council, said: "That would be a very significant year as it contains several important events in his story.

"He would have been 90 that year and it is also the 50th anniversary since the Andrew Mynarski School was founded here in Winnipeg.

"There's a lot of goodwill and support and we are confident we can reach the total."

The group is to send letters to important people in the city to gather support, as well as potential corporate sponsors.

Among those who attended the meeting were representatives from the Western Canada Aviation Museum, the Polish Combatants' Association, Mynarski's old 419 squadron and the Andrew Mynarski School.

A private donation of $1,000 Canadian dollars was also pledged.

Dr Tom Axworthy, a former head of the Historical Foundation, an organisation that promotes Canadian heritage, agreed to give his support to the campaign.

The Canadian statue would be similar to that created for The Echo appeal by Northumberland sculptor Keith Maddison.

Mynarski was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for trying to free his comrade Pat Brophy, who was trapped in their burning Lancaster bomber over France.

He was unable to free him from the plane and saluted his friend before bailing out, on fire from the waist down. He died later from his burns.

Miraculously, Mr Brophy survived the crash and was able to tell of Mynarski's heroism.