‘PLEASE don’t ignore the will of the people of Portsmouth and lock the Yomper away inside a museum.’
That’s the heartfelt plea campaigners have issued to museum bosses as they presented thousands of signatures backing a call to keep the beloved Falklands memorial on Eastney’s seafront.
The fight to protect the landmark from moving from its prominent position outside The Royal Marines Museum and into the Historic Dockyard has been raging for almost a year.
Bosses at the National Museum of the Royal Navy want to see the Yomper form part of a new, multimillion-pound attraction in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.
While the campaigners want to keep the Yomper available to all, free of charge, at its seafront home – near the former Royal Marines’ barracks in Eastney.
It sparked a petition which has been backed by more than 3,000 people.
Sheila Mackie, 61, of Henderson Park, Eastney, was one of those behind the effort – which she and fellow campaigner Phil Saunders have now handed over.
In a final plea to museum bosses, she said: ‘They have to listen to the totally heartfelt strength of feeling from the Portsmouth community.
‘So many people have backed the petitions.
‘Some get really emotional about the Yomper. One old lady I was talking to said she would chain herself to it to try and stop it being moved.’
Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of The National Museum of the Royal Navy, received the petition and insisted that moving the Yomper was ‘not a done deal’.
‘We know there are strongly-held opinions about the Yomper and it’s important to reiterate that we haven’t made up our minds,’ he said.
‘There is very valuable work invested in this petition and we are happy to receive it today. We genuinely wanted to hear people’s thoughts.
‘This is not a done deal and the trustees will seriously consider this.’
Mrs Mackie added she was ‘confident’ the will of the people would be triumphant.
As previously reported, the Royal Marines Museum is due to close on April 1.
It will re-open in 2020 in at the current home of the Action Stations building, as part of a £13.85m plan to revitalise the historic dockyard.
A consultation on the Yomper by the museum will finish at the end of the month.
To have you say, see.royalmarinesmuseum.co.uk/yomper