18:51 Friday 15 February 2013

Statue plans for Burton VC war hero

Written byBY MARK MCKAY

Lance Corporal W H (bill) Coltman Lance Corporal W H (bill) Coltman

PLANS are in the pipeline for a statue of a Burton war hero to be built in the town.

A life-size statue of Victoria Cross winner William Coltman could be built in the town centre as part of the town’s First World War centenary celebrations.

Last month the Mail reported that the Victoria Cross Trust hopes to renovate Mr Coltman’s grave, at St Mark’s Church in Winshill.

On Friday the trust announced it plans to raise £100,000 to build a statue of Mr Coltman, in a ‘prominent’ town location.

Gary Stapleton, chairman of the Victoria Cross Trust, said: “We will be going forward with the plans for the statue.

“We want to get the restoration work on his grave done first and that will act as a launch pad for the statue.

“It definitely will be somewhere prominent in Burton.

“We don’t know what the time frame is for the statue yet – it will depend on how long it takes us to raise the money, choose the design and the sculpture but it would be great to have it done for the 100th anniversary.”

Mr Coltman, who was a stretcher bearer in the North Staffordshire regiment, was one of the most decorated soldiers in the First World War, being awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry, for rescuing wounded comrades while under fire in 1918.

He was also twice being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal.

Mr Stapleton said: “As we get closer to the 100th anniversary more and more people will be looking towards people like William Coltman and they want to know the story behind what he did.

“There will be more children learning about the First World War and it is important they know his story as well.”

Mr Stapleton said the statue could also be a tourist attraction.

He said: “It will be great for people to say there is a statue of William Coltman in Burton and it would be fantastic for it to attract people to the town.

“The entire nation should be proud there will be a statue of this person in Burton.”

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