Business appeal for rugby hero

BUSINESSES across Suffolk and Britain are to be asked to help contribute to a statue to a national rugby hero who died in the second world war.Prince Alexander Obolensky became a national hero after he inspired England to an historic victory over New Zealand in 1936.

BUSINESSES across Suffolk and Britain are to be asked to help contribute to a statue to a national rugby hero who died in the second world war.

Prince Alexander Obolensky became a national hero after he inspired England to an historic victory over New Zealand in 1936.

Tragically he died four years later when his Hawker Hurricane fighter crashed on take-off at Martlesham Heath airfield. He is buried in Ipswich cemetery.

Now business in the town are spearheading a campaign to get a statue to this sporting hero put up in the centre of Ipswich - and his memorial will be very different to statues in the town.


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The campaign is being spearheaded by borough chief executive and rugby fan James Hehir, who is now seeking sponsorship totalling £30,000.

He said: “The total cost of the statue is going to be £50,000 but thanks to the generosity of Graeme Kalbraier, who is also mad on rugby, we've got a massive head start.

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“We're now going to try to attract funding from other businesses with a love of the game and we are also hoping to get help from Prince Obolensky's club Rosslyn Park and Oxford University, where he was a Rugby Blue.”

Mr Hehir is organising the appeal in his spare time although the borough is acting as “banker” to the project in the same way that it is acting as “banker” for the Somebody's Daughter appeal.

“This is something I personally feel very passionate about and I'm doing all I can to get the project completed,” he said.

Descendents of Prince Obolensky have connections with the national media and are hoping to use those to attract more funding and Mr Hehir is hopeful that the statue will be ready to be completed and installed during the summer.

“Prince Obolensky was a real national hero, and it is right that the town should honour him in this way,” he said.

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