ONE of the country’s finest war memorials was re-dedicated yesterday as a royal visit capped its £35,000 restoration.
The Duke of Edinburgh was guest of honour at the ceremony at The Response memorial in front of Newcastle Civic Centre.
Also known as the Renwick Memorial, the listed bronze sculpture shows a column of soldiers marching off to war in 1914 and saying their farewells to loved ones.
It was given to the city by Tyneside shipowner and Newcastle Central MP Sir George Renwick and his wife.
And watching the rededication yesterday were four generations of the Renwick family, including Sir George’s great-great grandsons Sir Richard Renwick, from Whalton, and Guy Renwick, of Farnham, near Sharperton in Northumberland.
“It is a proud day. It’s a wonderful memorial and we are thrilled that it has been restored,” said Guy Renwick.
Created by artist Sir William Goscombe John, the memorial was adopted by the former Lord Mayor of Newcastle in 2006, Diane Packham as one of her projects to benefit from the Lord Mayor's Centenary Appeal.
The fund was supported by the Sir James Knott Trust, the War Memorial Trust, the Northumberland Fusiliers Association, the Joicey Trust, the Renwick family, Newcastle City Council, the Community Foundation of Tyne and Wear and many other organisations, trusts and private donors.
The sculpture was unveiled in 1923 by the then Prince of Wales and was commissioned by Sir George to commemorate the raising of the B. Company 9th Battalion and the 16th, 18th and 19th Service Battalions Northumberland Fusiliers by the Newcastle and Gateshead Chamber of Commerce in 1914.
Sir George also wanted to give thanks for the safe return of his five sons from the war.
The eldest, Acting Colonel John Renwick, raised a regiment of horse transport and took his pack of hounds with him to France.
His brothers William and Gustav were both majors in the 18th Northumberland Fusiliers , Capt George Renwick served in the Royal Horse Artillery Transport and Capt Septimus Renwick – Sir George’s seventh child – was with the Royal Scots and won the Military Cross.
Sir George died in 1931.
“He was very popular on Tyneside. He was very much a man of the working people and was much saddened by the losses they bore during the First World War,” said Guy.
After yesterday’s ceremony, Norman Ward, 75, a former sergeant major in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, from South Shields, said: “It’s fantastic that the Duke has come up here to recognise the importance of this monument. It’s such a great monument, it shows families as well as the volunteers themselves. It shows the Royal Family care about this area.”
Another veteran, Dennis Thornton, 72, said: “I had a quick word with the Duke and he asked me where my hat was. It makes it a lot more special that a member of the Royal Family has taken the time to come up here to see us.”
Duke reveals a few of his frustrations
PRINCE Philip revealed a few personal frustrations when he awarded his annual Designers Prize yesterday at The Sage Gateshead.
"If your fingers are big, why are the buttons on a mobile phone so close together than you can’t help pressing two at once?" he grumbled.
But as well as complaining about poor design, Prince Philip has long supported good design – an example of his "design activism", according to David Kester, chief executive of the Design Council.
The Prince Philip Designers Prize originated in 1959 as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Prize for Elegant Design, when the prize went to the Prestcold Packaway refrigerator.
The Prize is usually presented in London but the ceremony took place in Gateshead to coincide with Dott 07, the new national design festival taking place for the first time in the North-East.
The winner, from six shortlisted nominees, was illustrator David Gentleman whose distinguished career includes Penguin book covers, stamps, ads for Shell, the British Steel Corporation logo and a mural at Charing Cross Underground Station.
Making a difference
THE Princess Royal was also in the region yesterday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Newcastle branch of the charity Save The Children.
Speaking in Trinity House, Broad Chare, Princess Anne said: "It is a great privilege to be able to thank all the people here who have put in so much hard work over the years.
"It makes such a big difference to the lives of children across the world. It is a privilege to be President of an organisation with such strength and depth."
The Princess also attended a seminar given by Crime Concern at Hirst Miners Welfare, Alexandra Road, Ashington, Northumberland.