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Newsletter, April 2009 (Issue 175)

Obolensky comes to Town


An aristocratic Russian emigre is now commemorated in a square named after England's most famous regicide. The statue of Prince Alexander Obolensky was unveiled on 18 February by the Prince's niece, Princess Alexandra Obolensky, watched by a large gathering including representatives from the Russian embassy, members of the Rugby Football Union, ex-members of the RAF and various intrigued townspeople.

Obolensky's name is especially remembered as the 19 year old scorer of two tries in England's victory over the All Blacks in 1936 - remembered particularly because he was fast and exotic. He joined the RAF in 1939 but sadly was killed at Martlesham Heath when his Hurricane fighter crashed. He is buried in Ipswich cemetery amongst the war graves.

The idea for this memorial came from IBC's Chief Executive, lames Hehir. Funding was secured from several sources including Graeme Kalbraier of Call Connection, whose offices overlook the statue, and from Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC.

Sculptor Harry Gray let us into the secret that the Prince had been lying with the Queen Mother - in the foundry. (Her statue was installed a few days later in London.)

It could be argued that Prince Obolensky had only a tenuous connection with Ipswich. (And in the opinion of one Society member the statue should have been put in Hurricane Place on the former airport site.) But one part of Princess Obolensky's brief speech did strike a chord which is surely indisputable - "Ipswich now has something that's unique and I think in this day and age it's important for towns to have something a little bit different." For saying that she deserves to be made an honorary member of The Ipswich Society!

NEIL SALMON

    Front cover of issue 175 Cover, issue 175

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