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Statue to regiment to be unveiled by royal patron

11/10/11

His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay will unveil a commemorative statue to the Gordon Highlanders Regiment, which was commissioned by Aberdeen City Council, at 11am on Saturday 15 October 2011, at the city's Castlegate.

His Royal Highness with the Lord Lieutenant Peter Stephen and Sir Peter Graham and the statue. The Duke of Rothesay - as The Prince of Wales is known when in Scotland – is patron of the city's Gordon Highlanders Museum and was the last Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment.

The majority of the regiment's ranks were made up of men from Aberdeen and the North-east who fought on battlefields across the world. In August 1949 the regiment was given the Freedom of the City of Aberdeen.

As part of Aberdeen's history and heritage the Gordon Highlanders commemorative statue will honour and remember with pride and gratitude all that the regiment has done for the city and the country.

Former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill said: "There is no doubt they are the finest regiment in the world".

Renowned as a courageous fighting force with an exceptional reputation for good conduct, professionalism and steadfastness, the legacy of the Gordon Highlanders lives on through the current serving soldiers of The Highlanders, 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland. The 4th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland was granted Freedom of Aberdeen in 2006.

The Gordon Highlanders Working Group, which consists of elected members and representatives from the regiment, was established and sculptors were invited to submit designs for a statue. Following a formal selection process the working group appointed Mark Richards FRBS, a sculptor with a history of public commissions, to create the work.

The figurative sculpture is over life-size and features two Gordon Higlanders, one from the early days of the regiment, and the other from its closing years before amalgamation. His Royal Highnes chatted to some of the gathered crowds.

The sculptor worked closely with the Gordon Highlanders Museum and members of the regiment to ensure the accuracy of technical and historical detail.

The three dimensional, two-figure statue is cast in bronze on a granite plinth and can be viewed from all angles.

Lord Provost of Aberdeen Peter Stephen said: "The Gordon Highlanders is one of the great names in Scottish history and one of the most celebrated regiments of the British Army.

"As part of the city's history and heritage The Gordon Highlanders commemorative statue will honour and remember with pride and gratitude all that the regiment has done for this city and the country."

Lieutenant General Sir Peter Graham, of the Gordon Highlanders Museum, said: "His Royal Highness, The Duke of Rothesay was a superb, caring and interested Colonel- in-Chief of the Gordon Highlanders, and of course he has maintained that dedication as patron of the Gordon Highlanders Museum. He is very much a member of our regimental family and all Gordon Highlanders are very fond of him.

"It is a huge honour to the regiment that the city should fund and erect this commemorative statue to the regiment. All Gordon Highlanders are hugely proud of this very unusual and unique honour in recognition of 200 years of service to the Crown whilst representing the North East of Scotland in the army and we are extremely grateful to Aberdeen City Council.

"It is particularly fitting therefore that the last Colonel-in-Chief of this great regiment should unveil the statue. We are grateful to him for giving up his precious private time to do so."

Mark Richards added: "This enormously prestigious commission has been an honour to create.

His Royal Highness took the time to meet many of the gathered crowds that had turned up for the ceremony. "For the composition, I set out to visually convey an idea of the historical span of the Regiment. The two soldiers stand and kneel back to back on terrain and are portrayed as if from each end of the Regiment's historical spectrum. They are neither specific people nor officers. Rather the two men are symbols of the spirit of the Regiment, defending us whilst protecting and watching out for each other – brotherhood over the centuries.

"In my treatment of the sculpture, I have explored rhythms of movement within the kit and weaponry to create harmonious linkages that tie the composition together. I have retained some marks from my original workings in clay to keep the surface of the sculpture alive and convey the ruggedness of a soldier's life.

"From a personal point of view, it is particularly gratifying to be awarded this commission. In my early twenties, I came to Aberdeen in search of work and spent a summer at the docks in Peterhead. An outsider to my workmates, I was nevertheless accepted and looked after in what was, at times, a dangerous job, and I have never forgotten the kindness and warmth of the people here.

"Throughout the making of this sculpture, I have had a great deal of help and support from the Regiment, The Gordon Highlanders Museum and all at Aberdeen City Council."

The project cost 125,000 which has been paid from the Common Good Fund.