A lifesize statue of Wojtek, the soldier bear, weighing almost 60kgms is to be given to the people of Duns from its Polish twin town of Zagan.
Duns Community Council are investigating the transport and fixing costs and looking at various site options around the town, but at last month’s meeting members accepted the offer of the statue “with gratitude”.
Berwickshire, and Duns in particular, has strong links with Poland, many Poles spent the war years in Berwickshire during the 1940s and a number of them stayed on to make it their home as did Wojtek, a Syrian brown bear.
Abandoned as a cub Wojtek was adopted by a Polish military unit in Iran during World War II and was made an honorary soldier, living up to his name by helping Polish troops carry munitions during the Battle of Monte Cassino. When they were moved to Winfield near Hutton Wojtek came with them but when the soldiers were eventually demobilised they realised none of them could look after him and Wojtek spent the rest of his life in Edinburgh Zoo.
In recognition of the links during the war Duns is twinned with the Polish town of Zagan and chair of the Duns and District Twinning Association, Brigid Lady McEwen attended last month’s community council meeting, taking with her a model of Wojtek and an offer from Zagan to gift a statue of Wojtek.
The Wojtek statue will be 180cms high, 58cms wide at the feet and weigh between 50-60 kgms. It is made of polyurethane covered with a weather proof
material and would have to be fixed into concrete.
Last year a statue of the bear was unveiled in Krakow, a 10 feet bronze statue is planned for Edinburgh’s West Princes Stret Gardens, and there is also a statue of Wojtek in the Sikorski Museum in London.