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18th November 2017

Appeal for statue to Ipswich woman aviator


An appeal is to be launched to commission a statue of Ipswich-born aviator Edith Maud Cook in her home town of Ipswich.

Edith Maud Cook was an adventurous young woman, born to a modest family in 1878. An experienced balloonist and parachutist, she undertook her first flight at the controls of an aeroplane when she flew a tiny Bleriot XI at Pau Airfield in southern France, in January 1910, and, in doing so, became Britain’s first female pilot.

cookportSuffolk Aviation Heritage Group, which is leading the project, has commissioned some sketches by Suffolk aviation artist Geoff Pleasance of how the statue could look and is exhibiting these at Ipswich Borough Council’s Tourist Information Centre, in St Stephen’s Church. The exhibition, which is on until Christmas, gives the public an early opportunity to comment on the ideas.

The project to honour Edith Cook in her home town began in 2007 and last year outline planning consent was granted for a statue to be erected in Fore Street, in sight of her birth place. The statue is to be produced in bronze by renowned Suffolk sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn, the man behind Ipswich’s Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson statues.

It is hoped that the costs of around £60,000 can be raised via public appeal.

Edith went on to make many more flights during the first half of 1910, before her death in a parachuting accident in July of that year, aged just 31 years. Her achievements, both as a highly experienced balloon parachutist and a pioneering aviator, were largely forgotten for almost a century.

The project is supported by the Ipswich Women’s Festival Group, which included Edith on their Ipswich Women’s History Trail. Copies of the trail are available at the Tourist Information Centre, priced at 75p.

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