On Friday I had the honour of receiving the New Zealander of the Year award at a reception in London. The award was in recognition of the outstanding achievements of the Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign which I set up in 2007. You can view a TV new clip of the event here.
As readers of the blog and followers of the campaign will know, Sir Keith was the New Zealander who commanded 11 Group Fighter Command which defended London and the South East of England during World War Two; it was 11 Group that bore the brunt of the forthcoming Battle Of Britain. Park's handling of his fighters was impeccable and he won the Battle against the odds. However, as so often with unassuming men like Park, he lost the peace. After the Battle he and Dowding were cast aide as the result of political infighting and Park was consigned to Training Command. In a shameful episode, the official history of the Battle did not even mention him. However, Park was too good to languish for long and in July 1942 he was appointed to lead the air defence of Malta where he turned the tide of the battle and defeated the Luftwaffe once again.
Despite these achievements, there was no significant monument until I established the Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign which was successful in temporarily erecting his statue on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2009, and then on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain Day, 15th September 2010, a permanent statue of Park was unveiled in Waterloo Place in London.
Sir Keith Park will now forever gaze over the city he defended.