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PEGASUS AND THE PARATROOPER
Mark Jackson and Charlie Langton are masters of their craft. This job involved the placement of two outstanding pieces of sculpture, serving as a Memorial to the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces.
This was a difficult move to say the least; the height of the Pegasus sculpture was the first issue – however, with our expertise we decided that rotating the Pegasus through 30 degrees and having a bespoke transportation frame made solved that. Over hanging branches and low trees were another problem – but thanks to Ginger Farrar (an old friend of Mark’s) we managed to clear a 10 mile section of the route through mid Wales to see our way clear to our destination.
So much thought and preparation had gone into the project before we had even started – what could possibly go wrong! Added to the pressure was the timescale – a huge event had been arranged for the unveiling of these pieces due to be attended by HRH Prince Charles – these pieces had to go in on time.
June and July saw some of the worst rainfall in the UK for decades. The National Arboretum near Litchfield was in the thick of it. It was under 18 inches of water – with torrents running through the park on the day we arrived. The night before the installation was due to take place, the whole thing looked hopeless. The sculptor, Mark ‘Jacko’ Jackson sat on a post overlooking the park, which by now resembled a lake – the job, for him, was cancelled.
At J A Mackenzie we don’t give up so easily. I sat with my driver, Rob Langley, that night and formulated a plan – we were as confident as you could be that we could get those pieces where they were supposed to go.
The next day we met the team bright and early in the car park – the only place that wasn’t under two feet of water – and told them our plan.
We transferred the sculptures onto a smaller truck and proceeded with care through the narrow single track roads under water, a man at each corner to guide the truck through – one wrong move at this stage could mean the soft verges giving way – and the truck would be turned over – sculpture and all!
Rob drove the truck with the care and precision he always does – and after holding our breath quite a bit, we arrived at the installation site.
We needed sixteen tonnes of heavy 5m x 1m matting in order to stabilise the crane and keep it in position whilst we unloaded the sculptures. We had given up on keeping dry by now – even the carp swimming between our legs were eager to come and have a look at what was going on....!
With the help of Jacko’s fantastic team of men, Rob and I worked a long and hard day to get the final result; a magnificent tribute to the Airborne Forces to whom we owe so much.
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