FOR decades they have risked their lives disarming mines and bombs in some of the world’s most dangerous environments.
And now the heroism and sacrifice of the nation’s military diving community is set to be immortalised by a new national memorial.
Campaigners are set to construct a stunning 10ft bronze statue, worth almost £900,000, at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.
The effort is being spearheaded by two former Royal Navy mine clearance divers, Paul Guiver and Tony Sexton.
Mr Sexton, who used to be based at the defence diving school on Horsea Island, said: ‘Clearance divers have been involved in every major British conflict since their inception, and have most recently been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
‘Surprisingly, there has been no national memorial to commemorate the bravery of these remarkable people – until now.’
A two-year project to create the bronze statue of a diver, wearing an historic diving suit complete with a six-bolt helmet, has already begun.
To fund the scheme, campaigners commissioned world-class sculptor Greg Polutanovich to create a 21-inch statuette of the intended memorial in clay which have now been produced in bronze.
They will now be sold to fund the construction of the national memorial, with 300 miniatures up for grabs.
Weighing about 21kg and mounted on black granite, each statue costs £2,995. More than 120 have been sold so far.
All those who purchase a statue will have their name engraved on the plaque of the national memorial when it opens in 2021.
They’ll also receive a commemorative coin, a piece of the ceramic mould the memorial was cast in and an invitation to attend the unveiling ceremony.
Mr Sexton said the statue would be a fitting tribute to all the military diving community, past, present and future.
He added: ‘The military diver memorial project is a long overdue salute to the bravery of all military divers, rewarding benefactors with a stunning piece of fine art and recognising their generous support on the memorial plinth itself.’
For more details about the memorial, see militarydivermemorial.com