Big boost for statue campaign

A FUNDRAISING drive to build a statue in memory of Ipswich's “flying prince” Alexander Obolensky has been boosted by national rugby chiefs.The Rugby Football Union today announced it has contributed £5,000 toward the £50,000 target for the statue of England rugby legend Prince Obolensky which will be erected in Ipswich town centre.

A FUNDRAISING drive to build a statue in memory of Ipswich's “flying prince” Alexander Obolensky has been boosted by national rugby chiefs.

The Rugby Football Union today announced it has contributed £5,000 toward the £50,000 target for the statue of England rugby legend Prince Obolensky which will be erected in Ipswich town centre.

The donation means the project is now more than half way to achieving the target with £29,000 raised.

RFU chief executive Francis Baron, who grew up in Framlingham and went to school in Ipswich, said: “The Rugby Football Union is delighted to have been able to make a contribution to the Prince Obolensky Memorial Project that will create a superb tribute to a great sportsman.


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“Prince Alexander Obolensky's brief life is the stuff of legend. He scored one of the greatest tries in the history of international rugby for England and then gave his life preparing to defend the country that had become his home.

“His close association with Ipswich makes it particularly fitting that he should be remembered in this way and I look forward to seeing Harry Gray's statue in place in Cromwell Square.”

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Prince Obolensky, a winger, scored a famous try at Twickenham in 1936 in England's first defeat of the New Zealand All Blacks.

The prince, a Russian immigrant who became a British citizen, scored two tries in the victory, which was also the 19-year-old's international debut.

He later joined the Royal Air Force and died in his Hurricane fighter in a crash at Martlesham Heath in 1940. He is buried in Ipswich Cemetery.

The statue project was the idea of rugby fan and Ipswich Borough Council chief executive James Hehir.

Graeme Kalbraier, managing director of Ipswich business Call Connection, put up a donation of £20,000 to help get it off the ground.

He said: “I think it's particularly good the RFU has got involved, great credit to them for that. I'm sure it won't be long before we reach the total.”

Donations to the project should be made to Ipswich Borough Council (Prince Obolensky Memorial Project) and sent for the attention of: Chief Executive, Ipswich Borough Council, Grafton House, 15-17 Russell Road, Ipswich IP1 2DE.

Do you have any memories of Prince Obolensky? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Prince Alexander Obolensky:

Prince Obolensky's family of aristocrats fled Russia after the Revolution. His father Prince Serge was a commander in the Tsar's Imperial Horse Guards in St Petersburg.

His rugby prowess has since seen him named in England's “most influential XV ever” along with Martin Johnson, Will Carling and Jason Robinson.

One leading rugby writer voted his most celebrated try against the All Blacks as “England's greatest every try”.

Obolensky also features in the rugby Hall of Fame.

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