Mayor ‘ashamed’ by bird memorial state

Mayor Bob Smytherman and Janet Goldsbrough-Jones at the pigeon memorial service.
Mayor Bob Smytherman and Janet Goldsbrough-Jones at the pigeon memorial service.

A DILAPIDATED and unique memorial to war birds which the council can no longer afford to maintain could be nurtured back to its former glory by the community.

The pigeon memorial, in Beach House Park, Worthing, has long stood in honour of birds which contributed to the war effort, but in recent years it has become increasingly overgrown.

At the annual remembrance service held this month, such was the poor state of the memorial, mayor Bob Smytherman admitted he was ‘ashamed’.

In response, he laid down a challenge to the Combined Ex Services Association, who could now take on its upkeep.

Speaking at the service, Mr Smytherman said: “I have to say, I am a little bit ashamed of it really. We have got wonderful running water, which is not working and it is all full of leaves.

“I just think that we have got so much goodwill in the town, that the council shouldn’t be doing it, but facilitating others to maintain this memorial.”

Combined Ex Services Association secretary Janet Goldsbrough-Jones, who was also at the service, said she was surprised by the challenge, but hinted it could be done if needed.

She said: “We would have to find someone to do it for us, but we would take it up quite happily.

“It really should look a little bit better than it does, and it is pretty pathetic, but we understand it is not a priority for the council.

“We would at least like some say in it.”

Mrs Goldsbrough-Jones said that at one time the council was considering removing it, but the group quickly put a stop to the suggestion.

She said: “There is obviously quite a few of us who said at the time, ‘you’re not going to’.

“It is a little gem, and we believe it is the only one of its kind in the UK.”

The service was recorded by Canadian Roots founders Chris Vowles and Pam Wilson, who also noticed the state of the memorial.

Mrs Wilson said: “It is something that is particular to Worthing, and is part of our heritage.

“I think it would be a brilliant idea, and as long as it is not overgrown, people would be able to see it.

“We said that if we get the time, we would go up there and give it a clean, but it would be great if the Combined Ex Services Association took over the upkeep of it.”

Mr Smytherman has discussed the issue with council leader Paul Yallop, who said he was keen to look into the possibility.

Seafront planting by the community has been hailed a success, and the association’s possible involvement would work in a similar way.

The memorial was commissioned in 1951 by actress Nancy Price, as a tribute to carrier pigeons used during the second world war.