Masterpiece memorial win for Holbeach student Austin

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A permanent landmark for British soldiers killed in Middle Eastern conflicts has been designed by a student at University Academy Holbeach.

Year 12 student Austin Walker-Hyde’s creation of a kaleidoscope of butterflies, with an angel on top, was chosen from entries for a competition to design a war memorial proposed for land off the A17 near Fleet.

Harold Payne, Alistair Ruskin, UAH head of sixth form Donna Allen, (front) students Alex Turner and James Barnhurst, with World War II veterans John Summerton and Ernie Covill, outside the Anglia Motel, Fleet.  Photo by Tim Wilson.

Harold Payne, Alistair Ruskin, UAH head of sixth form Donna Allen, (front) students Alex Turner and James Barnhurst, with World War II veterans John Summerton and Ernie Covill, outside the Anglia Motel, Fleet. Photo by Tim Wilson.

The 17-year-old said: “When we went for the first briefing, the instruction was to create something that had the potential of representing a tree.

“But it had to be eye-catching and contain the wow factor, so I started looking at tree sculptures and came across some that incorporated birds and 

butterflies in them.

“Then I began to settle on the idea of using birds so that, for instance, the butterflies would be combined with something that could represent life or someone’s story. 

If we can get it through the planning process, the war memorial and memorial garden will be an asset for the community.

Harold Payne, owner of the Anglia Motel, Fleet Hargate

“That made the book ideaw a no-brainer, but I wanted to have the book open and then have wires connecting the butterflies to the book pages as the book represents the soldiers and their stories, while the butterflies represent the fallen and how their story end, even though they have passed on.

“I am really happy to have been chosen as the winning design and I really like the fact that it will be a sculpture to stay for generations to come so that people from all over the area who pass through Holbeach and Fleet will be able to see it.”

The competition was the idea of Harold Payne, owner of the Anglia Motel at Fleet Hargate, who has raised about £620,000 for various Armed Forces charities, including the Royal Anglian Regiment Association.

Mr Payne said: “There were two really nice designs out of the entries we had, one of which was a tree of butterflies to represent each of the young boys who fell in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last six years, with an angel on top of it.

“I really liked it because I thought it was something that would really do them justice and represent the young lads’ lives.

“If we can get it through the planning process, the war memorial will be a 25-foot tall structure that will last for a lifetime.

“I believe the memorial garden, planned for a prime piece of land near Fleet, will be an asset for the community.”

Austin’s reward for winning the competition for under-17s was a £500 cheque, as well as the pride of seeing his design turned into a permanent war memorial for both the families of fallen soldiers and South Holland.

Alistair Ruskin, art teacher at University Academy Holbeach, said: “We saw the competition advertised and recognised the benefits for students if they took part.

“After meeting Harold Payne at the proposed war memorial site, we sent the students off to research different scultures and they came up with five designs from which one or two were chosen to be developed further and put up for a public vote.

“Austin was very surprised, but also pleased, to have won and his design will potentially make a massive statement, both for himself and on behalf of soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom and liberty.”

Chance to vote for memorial design