Heroic effort for 'Braveheart' unveiling raises cash for dialysis unit

Brechin sculptor and stonemason Tom Church along with Brechin City FC have boosted Arbroath Infirmary’s renal dialysis unit with a donation of £740.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 5:00pm
Heroic effort for 'Braveheart' unveiling raises cash for dialysis unit
Tom Church and  David Birse (left) are pictured presenting the cheque to staff nurses Philip McMenaman and Ashley Ritchie. (Paul Reid)

The cheque was the proceeds of a bucket collection which took place at Brechin City’s Glebe Park when Mr Church’s ‘Freedom’ statue – featuring Mel Gibson as Scottish patriot William Wallace – was unveiled to the public earlier this month.

It was the fourth time the 13-foot statue had been unveiled, but the club believes it has now found a permanent home in Brechin.

David Birse, former chairman, said: "with the help of Tom the club are delighted to have raised so much money for Tom's chosen charity.

"It was a fantastic idea".

The donation came about as Mr Church has been attending the unit three days a week for treatment.

He said: “The staff at the unit have been wonderful during my treatment.

"I can't speak highly enough of them and the help I and others have had and continue to have."

The sculpture – officially called the ‘Spirit of Wallace’ - was created by Tom in 1996 in the wake of the popularity of Mel Gibson’s film ‘Braveheart’.

He leased the statue to Stirling Council and in 1997 it was installed it in the car park of the visitor centre at the foot of Abbey Craig, near the Wallace Monument.

It was later enclosed to protect it from vandals and plans to expand the visitor centre, including a new restaurant and reception, led to its removal in 2008.

An estimated 250-300 people gathered for its unveiling at Glebe Park by STV newsreader and Brechiner Andrea Brymer at an event organised by the Brechin Football Community Trust. At the time, Clark Renilson, Brechin City community manager, said that he was pleased with the mixed age range in attendance.

He said: “The statue has been in various places throughout Scotland, and it was offered to the club just this year as the sculptor is a resident of the town. This will be the final resting place, where it will remain.”

The statue, one of the most recognised pieces of public art in Scotland, regularly divides opinion and was previously described by Ken Thomson, Stirling District Tourism’s marketing chief, as “a bit of a marmite object.”

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