Somme memorial sculpture gets planning approval

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Plans for a memorial sculpture for Belper soldiers killed at the Battle of the Somme have been approved by Amber Valley Borough Council.

The formal agreement was made on Tuesday, March 28, following considerations by council planning officers.

Belper Town Council had sought permission to widen the path which leads from King Street through the Memorial Gardens, and to erect the sculpture, which has the title Sacrifice.

Artist Andy Mayers, who first designed the piece as a theatre backdrop, said: “It’s great to be one step closer. Now we can start thinking about how to fund it and get going on raising the money.”

The sculpture consists of a stone base supporting 14 vertical steel spears, arranged to resemble the face of Corporal Jim Green of the Sherwood Foresters, one of the 14 killed.

The spears are to be made from the same material as the Angel of the North, and will be produced in Sheffield.

Planning officers have approved the design on condition that the base be made of a stone matching the other memorial in the garden.

The updated design will also now feature an inscription in the base, with words taken from a letter Walter Pepper wrote home to his wife on the night before fighting began.

It reads: “I could not rest without saying goodbye, happen for the last time.”

The projected costs of the project are in the region of £20,000.

Andy and supporters at Belper in Wartime will be applying for grant funding, staging local collections, and possibly a crowdfunding campaign.

He said: “We were at the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site anniversary event last month, and got a really good response. We collected £100, so that’s a start.

“We’ll be at Morrisons on Saturday, April 22, with a mock-up of the sculpture, so people can come along and see for themselves and get involved.”

To find out more about Belper’s Somme soldiers, the Sacrifice project, and how to make a donation, visit www.belperinwartime.org.