Louis Smith statue closer after farmer donates land

OLYMPIC silver and bronze medallist Louis Smith could be immortalised in a huge sculpture as early as next year.

Landowner Stephen Parsley, of Red House Farm, Woodwalton, offered artist Derek Massey the use of one of his fields for the 30ft-high figure of Louis leaping from his pommel horse.

The field will be turned into a lake with an island in the middle on which the sculpture will sit.

Mr Massey said the location was perfect and he estimates more than 22 million train-users will see it – which was his initial aim.

“This location is much better than the Fens because it’s a railway sculpture,” Mr Massey said.

“One of the aims is to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and travel by rail and I think this will do that.”

The Ramsey St Mary’s artist said that Mr Parsley’s generous donation has cut the cost of the project by more than half.

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Originally estimated to be �500,000, Mr Massey now puts the cost at no more than �200,000.

“The statue will now be made entirely of timber with the horse sculpted from 9,000-year-old bog oak donated by Peterborough farmer Stephen Papworth,” he added.

“We have no planning issues because it will be on private land and I’m currently in negotiations with Tesco, Barclays Bank and Network Rail, amongst others, for funding.

“As soon as that is in place there is no reason not to start.

“The whole process should take no longer than six months.”

Mr Massey said the land donation was a “God-send” because, after five years of planning the project with little progress, he had almost “given up.”

But he said his dream was to leave a legacy in the region, and when the Fens re-flood in years to come – as he predicts they will – the sculpture would still be visible.

“All this land will be under the sea – which is where it originally came from,” he said.

“But you’ll still be able to see Louis on his pommel horse.”