A HUGE figure of an athlete leaping over a pommel horse – made of bog oak and set in Holme Fen - featured in last week s Hunts Post, has received support from people including the Bafta award winning actress Virginia McKenna, founder of the Born Free Fou

A HUGE figure of an athlete leaping over a pommel horse - made of bog oak and set in Holme Fen - featured in last week's Hunts Post, has received support from people including the Bafta award winning actress Virginia McKenna, founder of the Born Free Foundation..

Her successful career included starring in Born Free in 1966, in which she played real-life wildlife campaigner Joy Adamson.

Miss McKenna started the foundation as Zoo Check in 1984 with her late husband, Bill Travers, and eldest son, Will, after the premature death of Pole Pole, an elephant she had come to know during the filming of An Elephant Called Slowly who was later gifted to London Zoo.

After reading our report last week of the proposal for "the Pride of the East", a sculpture made of iron by Ramsey artist Derek Massey, she wrote to The Hunts Post to say: "What an exciting, unusual and attractive design for a symbol to celebrate the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This would be an iconic sculpture - modern yet incorporating elements from the past with the pommel horse created from the bog oak found in the Fens. I sincerely hope Derek's imaginative design will be selected."

There was support from other readers, too, Jerri and George Anderson from Ramsey wrote to say: "The natural bog oak that is continually being brought up from the depths of the land as it is being farmed, as it has a history all its own associated with this area." The couple came up with the titles: Horseman of the East or The Vaulting Horseman of the East.

However, there was a different response from David Woods from Godmanchester who asked: "Why does the artist wish to inflict upon us yet another lump of iron to go rusty? Why is English sculptural art so drab, cheerless and dull?"

Mr Wood said he had seen a shiny chrome or stainless steel sculpture in Buenos Aires which had a brilliant golden interior and was stunning.

Meanwhile Mr Massey has said his figure could be illuminated at night so that the bog oak was unseen and the athlete would appear to be flying. He has also said that he would be prepared to split the cash - which the "Cultural Olympiad" is offering for such a work with Huntingdon's Olympic Gym to help the gym raise funds for an extension.

As we reported last week, he believes limited edition models of the sculpture and the painting on this page could be sold to give money to the gym.

As part of London's winning Olympic bid for 2012, pieces of art must be commissioned for the nine English regions.

In the East of England, there is £500,000 to spend and Matthew Linley, chair of the judges for the region has said the panel is open to suggestions.

The athlete on the pommel horse is inspired by Louis Smith's winning a bronze medal for the pommel horse at the Beijing Olympics last year and also by a figure of an athlete from Ancient Greece leaping over a bull.

Massey, from Ramsey St Mary's wants the sculpture placed at Holme Fen, where it will be seen by the thousands of railway passengers travelling from King's Cross to Edinburgh.

Artists have until Friday, May 29 to submit ideas and can do so online at www.artiststakingthelead.org.uk