Campaigners call for Leeds hero’s statue to be moved

Bev Osborne and Dave Whittaker by the staue of Arthur Aaron in Eastgate, Leeds.

Bev Osborne and Dave Whittaker by the staue of Arthur Aaron in Eastgate, Leeds.

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Campaigners have launched a bid to move the memorial statue of Leeds’ hero airman Arthur Aaron from its current “disrespectful” location on a city centre roundabout.

The 17ft tall bronze sculpture was unveiled in 2001 at the bottom of Eastgate in tribute to Leeds only serviceman awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second World War.

Where it’s located is in bad taste - at the bottom of Eastgate behind what was a petrol station. People don’t see it, and don’t know what it is.

Dave Whittaker

But now a Facebook campaign has been launched to move the bronze-clad memorial to a new location, nearer to Roundhay where he was originally from.

Former Roundhay High School pupils Dave Whittaker and Bev Osborne are behind the protest and suggested moving it to new the Oakwood Clock site or near Roundhay Park.

Dave said: “Where it’s located is in bad taste - at the bottom of Eastgate behind what was a petrol station. People don’t see it, and don’t know what it is.

“This guy won the Victoria Cross. It’s not just us - a lot of people I’ve spoken to agree. It’s a bad location - it’s disrespectful.

“If it was somewhere like the Oakwood Clock it would be fantastic. It would be very significant there. Thousands of people go to Roundhay Park - people can stand and read, learning about him.”

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The statue was created for the millennium after a campaign through the YEP to decide who should be the subject - and readers voted the pilot the clear winner.

But its location has attracted controversy over the years, with campaigns to move it closer to the war memorial in Victoria Gardens or outside Leeds Museum on Millennium Square.

Coun Bill Urry (Lab, Roundhay) said he fully supports this latest campaign. He said: “It would best if his statue is moved from that nondescript roundabout.

“We have a very brave man whose actions clearly saved the lives of several of his colleagues and somebody who continued to fly a plane when he was grievously injured and in fact dying.

“I think it right that his statue is in a place where that will be recognised - in a much more prominent position, where his story is better known.

“And it is better known. At Roundhay School there are memorias to him and anyone who goes to the school will know his story.”

To support the campaign, search Facebook for “Arthur Louis Aaron VC”.

FACTFILE

Flt Sgt Arthur Aaron was just 21 when he died - a former pupil of Roundhay Grammar School and Leeds University.

He ignored grievous wounds to help his stricken aircraft to safety on the night of 12 August 1943.

A plaque on his statue reads: “By supervising the flight from Turin to Bone, North Africa, he gave up his life for those of his crew and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.”

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