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Wirral's race to raise a Warrior
A WIRRAL community is involved in a race against time to build an 8ft high Viking warrior in time for a special royal visit next year.
Campaigners have secured local authority approval for the venture. Now they must raise almost £50,000 for a bronze figure of Viking leader Ingimund to be sculpted and put in place at Meols Park.
The unveiling next summer will coincide with the maiden voyage of Viking longship Drakon Harald Fairhair, which will retrace the sea voyage taken by the Vikings from Scandinavia to Istanbul.
Hope are high that Norwegian King Harald will be aboard the vessel when it arrives in Wirral.
Key to the initiative is an application for more than £40,000 from National Lottery funding.
Roy Shuttleworth, secretary of the Friends of Meols Park, said: "Hopefully we will get an answer from the lottery people in six to eight weeks time.
"It has been a long drawn-out process and they have moved the goalposts a little by changing the criteria.
"They don’t just give money – you must produce all the heritage material to show what it is all about."
Organisers of the voyage have agreed that Wirral will be one of the first stops because of its strong Viking links – evidenced by place names and a genetic survey that showed a Norwegian influence in the DNA of the borough’s oldest families.
Wirral Viking expert Professor Stephen Harding is in the process of persuading King Harald to unveil the finished statue.
He said: "It would be marvellous for Wirral if he was here when the longship arrives and there is a statue of Wirral’s first-known leader – the Norseman Ingimund – for him to unveil."
Sculptor Stephen Hitchin has been commissioned to create the statue which will stand on a plinth designed like a rock or a longship.
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