23 February 2023Last of the Few Memorial
On Tuesday, 21st February 2023, a team of volunteers from The Kent Battle of Britain Museum, at Hawkinge, Kent drove over to SPACERs at Ramsgate in the afternoon to meet Stephen Melton, Sarah Craske and team to collect a very special sculpture!
Museum Chairman Dave had received the heads up from our incredibly talented and modest sculptor, Stephen Melton, on Sunday morning that he had applied the patina, together the hot wax, and the sculpture of ‘The Last of The Few – ‘Paddy’ Hemingway’ would be ready to collect late morning on Tuesday and after a couple of further layers of wax had been applied on Monday / Tuesday AM.
Stephen had sent a number of photographs and several of the volunteers had suggested that you could see more of Stephen’s fine detail in the life size bronze sculpture of Group Captain John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway with the finish being matt rather than polished. Dave had a conversation with Stephen on Monday, and it was agreed not polish the wax layers and by doing so and unbuffed, the sculpture would remain a matt finish. It also meant that if we ever decided that we preferred ‘The Last of The Few – ‘Paddy’ Hemingway’ Monument polished, we could simply do this on site at the Museum.
So around 2pm Dave, Mitch, Mel and Tony arrived at SPACER, and Dave carefully reversed his truck around the obstacle course of the industrial estate where SPACER is based. There they were greeted by Stephen and shown into the foundry where the finished sculpture of ‘Paddy’, who as far as we know is the last remaining member of ‘The Few’ alive anywhere in the World. To be one of ‘The Few’ you had to have flown at least one operational sortie during the Battle of Britain (10th July – 31st October 1940) with one of the 71 accredited RAF Fighter Squadrons. ‘Paddy’ who will celebrate his 104th Birthday in July this year, resides in a Retirement Home in Dublin.
So, what can you say about Stephen’s latest creation. As some have already said, and this is not belittling any of his previous work in anyway, this is without doubt his very best figurative work too date. You only have to look at the ‘Spirit of The Few’ Monument to see the shear skill and love that goes into his work, but ‘The Last of The Few’ is something else.
It really captures the original photograph that it is based on, and it really feels as though ‘Paddy’ is with you and at any moment he will turn and talk to you! Dave has always struggled to find appropriate words to describe the genius that is Stephen Melton and awesome, splendid, superb, stunning, spectacular, etc simply does not do any justice to his work. It is just out of this world.