Sculpture of Henry Alligham unveiled in Eastbourne gallery

A bronze sculpture of one of Britain’s last World War I veterans Henry Allingham has been unveiled at the Towner.

The tribute piece was unveiled this week by Dennis Goodwin, the long-time friend of Henry and who, with his wife Brenda, helped Henry attend countless official engagements and events.

The much loved former resident of Eastbourne and world’s oldest man was 113 when he died in July 2009.

The bronze was created by 18-year-old Jenna Gearing as part of a college project and came to the attention of the leader of Eastbourne Borough Council David Tutt, who contacted Jenna’s family to ask if it could be exhibited at the Towner.

Councillor Tutt said this week, “Jenna has captured Henry wonderfully well and has given us all a timely reminder of his warm, friendly and humorous nature.

“He was a local resident for 40 years and was made a Honorary Freeman of Eastbourne in 2006, so it is most fitting that he is now immortalised in bronze, in his home town, for all to see.”

The sculpture will remain on display in the gallery front window until Remembrance Sunday.

Henry was the oldest ever surviving member of any of the British Armed Forces and the oldest surviving veteran of the First World War. He was the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland, the last surviving member of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and the last surviving founding member of the Royal Air Force.

In 2001 he became the face of the First World War veterans’ association and made frequent public appearances to ensure that awareness of the sacrifices of the First World War was not lost to modern generations. He received many honours and awards for his First World War service and his longevity.

He was verified as the oldest living man in the world for just one month and the 14th-verified oldest man of all time.