Wojtek statue funding

Programme Name: Wojtek - The Bear That Went To War - TX: 30/12/2011 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Embargoed for publication until: n/a - Picture Shows:  Unknown soldiers, Wojtek The Bear - (C) BBC - Photographer: Unknown
Programme Name: Wojtek - The Bear That Went To War - TX: 30/12/2011 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Embargoed for publication until: n/a - Picture Shows: Unknown soldiers, Wojtek The Bear - (C) BBC - Photographer: Unknown

The campaign to erect a memorial of Wojtek, the bear who came to the Borders with Polish soldiers after World War II, has received a boost.

The Scottish Government last week announced a grant of £20,000 for the Wojtek Memorial Trust, which is looking to build a memorial to the bear in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

The government’s cash injection will go towards a panel explaining the significance of the memorial - with the Polish government also set to make a contribution.

A Trust spokesman said they hoped to unveil the new statue next year, after so far achieving two thirds of their initial £300,000 funding target.

Simon Thompson, chair of the Trust, hailed the donation as “great for the Trust and great for the statue.”

‘Private Wojtek’, the six-foot brown bear, was the pride of the Polish infantry during the Second World War, who bought him with a tin of corned beef, and he even drank beer and smoked cigarettes with the soldiers.

After joining up as a motherless cub, he was brought to Scotland by Polish soldiers after the war,having helped fight German troops in Italy at the height of the conflict.

Announcing the government’s cash boost to the campaign, Culture and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Wojtek the soldier bear symbolises the strong relationship between Scotland and Poland and our historic links, and I am delighted to support this statue.

“I want young Scots to know the story of Wojtek.”