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Bid to have statue of Scott trek explorer unveiled by a royal; FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE SETS TARGET AMOUNT OF PS90,000.

Byline: ROBIN TURNER robin.turner@walesonline.co.uk

A STATUE to the Welsh member of the Scott expedition could be officially unveiled by a member of the royal family, Swansea Council has said.

Petty Officer Edgar Evans, born in Middleton, near Rhossili in the Gower in 1876, died on February 17, 1912 - a month after the expedition led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole, only to find Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it.

In February this year, at a service to mark the centenary of his death the grandson of Edgar Evans, John Evans, 72, made an impassioned plea for a statue to be erected in his grandfather's memory.

Former electrician and shop owner Mr Evans said he had been appealing for a statue to his famous grandfather's memory on Swansea seafront "for many years" but had received little response from the authorities in Swansea.

Now the Scott Society is backing the proposal and a fundraising committee with John Evans as its president has been set up to raise the PS90,000 needed to pay for the statue.

Swansea councillors will be told at a meeting later this week the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust has agreed to donate PS10,000 to the statue appeal.

A report on the statue idea says the Trust would give its backing to an invitation to a member of the Royal Family to unveil the statue in November or December of 2013, when sculptor Roger Evans is due to have finished the statue.

The fundraising committee wants the life-sized bronze memorial, which with a plinth would stand 15ft tall, to be erected at Museum Green outside Swansea Museum on the main approach road to Swansea.

Swansea Council is hoping a Royal Navy vessel will visit Swansea at the time of the unveiling with personnel becoming involved in the ceremony. As the men made their way back through blizzards, -45C temperatures, virtually impassable terrain and occasional blinding sunshine, Evans succumbed to a wound that wouldn't heal, frostbite and the terrible conditions. He was the first of the South Pole party to die.

Scott, along with Lieutenant Henry Bowers, Dr Edward Wilson and Captain Titus Oates, who famously sacrificed himself by walking out of their blizzard ravaged tent, all perished from a combination of starvation, exhaustion and extreme cold soon after.

Evans, the son of a Swansea "Cape Horner" - the name given to sailors who rounded the perilous tip of South America - died in his tent at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier.

Within days of leaving the Pole "bullnecked" Evans was suffering from frostbite to his fingers and nose.

On February 16 he was left far behind as the other four in the party hauled their sledge towards the next supply depot. Scott wrote in his diary, which was later recovered from his body: "After lunch and Evans still not appearing, we looked out to see him still afar off... I was first to reach the poor man and was shocked by his appearance, he was on his knees with clothes disarrayed, hands uncovered and frostbitten, and a wild look in his eyes."

His grandson Mr Evans said the statue would be a permanent reminder of his grandfather, whose remains were never found.

He said at the service earlier this year: "Bring him home."

He added his grandfather was "a proud Welshman and a proud man of Gower" and added it was partly due to his "Welsh hwyl" the party got to the South Pole.

Evans' widow Sarah (nee Beynon) was not told of the death until almost a year later, being handed a telegram as she gathered cockles on Oxwich Beach, Gower.

Evans was born on March 7, 1876, in the village of Middleton, the eldest of four and his family later moved to Swansea.

They lived at Hoskins Place off Lower Oxford Street and later at William Street.

After leaving St Helen's Boys' School he worked at the Castle Hotel on St Mary's Street then at the Post Office in Wind Street.

It was after listening there to stories of "Cape Horners", that he joined the Royal Navy at just 15. He became a physical training instructor and a naval gunner and Captain Scott, who met Evans in 1897 while serving on HMS Majestic, took a great liking to his "strength and anecdotes".

CAPTION(S):

The Western Depot Party, 1911. From left: Griffith Taylor, Charles Wright, Lieutenant 'Teddy' Evans, Lieutenant 'Birdie' Bowers, Captain Scott, Frank Debenham, Sub-Lieutenant Tryggve Gran, PO Edgar Evans, PO Thomas Crean

Petty Officer Edgar Evans in the Antarctic in November 1911

PICTURE: The Royal Collection
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 18, 2012
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