THE man who created the iconic Yomper statue outside The Royal Marines Museum has backed the campaign to stop it from being moved.
Sculptor Philip Jackson, commissioned to make the Falklands tribute in Eastney, says it is the ‘last visible reminder’ of the Royal Marines long association with the area.
It comes after residents spoke out against plans to move it to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard once the marines museum moves there in 2019.
And Mr Jackson, a world-renowned artist, believes another sculpture should be created for the dockyard so the people of Eastney can keep theirs.
The number of signatures put on an online petition against the move has shot up from 340 to more than 670 since The News highlighted the campaign on Monday.
Mr Jackson, who lives and works in West Sussex, said: ‘The Yomper was designed and made to stand in front of the historic Royal Marines buildings and it’s museum and was unveiled by Britain’s leader during the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher, in the presence of many veterans of that conflict.
‘It should remain in the location it was made for and unveiled in as it will be the last visible reminder of the Royal Marines long association with Eastney, and the place where so many trained and went from to fight this countries wars.
‘It is now part of the heritage of Eastney and the south coast and is a very well known and recognisable landmark.’
Around 50 people recently gathered at the Yomper to pledge their support.
Geoff Elliott, of Gunners Row, said: ‘The statue belongs where the Marines were, not taken to a place of little relevance. It belongs where Mrs Thatcher, in the name of the British people, paid homage by unveiling the statue.
‘To move the statue to a place of little meaning would be to rewrite history.’