Following a charity ball in 2014 marking the Centenary of the First World War, Bewley Homes joined other local businesses and communities on 4th October 2015 to unveil a memorial statue and Roll of Honour. The memorial statue celebrates the incredible bravery of Trooper Potts VC, the only man from Reading to be awarded the Victoria Cross, and was created by sculptor Tom Murphy for The Trooper Potts VC Memorial Trust. The Roll of Honour lists the 426 men of The Berkshire Yeomanry who gave their lives in the wars of the 20th Century. Both the statue and Roll of Honour have been erected in The Forbury, opposite The Crown Court and The Abbey Gateway, just outside the peaceful Forbury Gardens in Reading.
The creation of the memorial was inspired by the popularity of a 2009 BBC Radio Berkshire programme which rediscovered Reading’s VC story. Assisted by patron Chris Tarrant OBE, and major sponsor Haslams Estate Agents, the trust raised an incredible £176,000, including a donation by Bewley Homes of £3,000.
The unveiling was preceded by a parade by 94 (Berkshire Yeomanry) Signal Squadron and music was provided by ‘The Band and Bugles of The Rifles’. The memorial statue was unveiled by Chris Tarrant OBE and the Lord-Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire Mr. J Puxley. The Roll of Honour was then revealed by students from The Abbey School Reading, a leading independent girl’s day school within the heart of Reading and near to Bewley Homes’ Bewley Park development. The local community came out in their hundreds, as well as a representative from the Turkish Embassy, Mayors and Chairmen of Councils from across Old Berkshire, and officials of the Ministry of Defence.
Also in attendance were descendants of Trooper Potts and Trooper Andrews, the men depicted in the sculpture. The life-size sculpture, in bronze depicts Fred Potts rescuing his comrade, Trooper Andrews on a shovel in Gallipoli, after which Fred became known as ‘The Hero with the Shovel’. The monument spans an impressive 10 feet in length, standing 7 feet in height and 3 feet in width on its Portland Stone base. The Roll of Honour is the only memorial which lists the names of every man within The Berkshire Yeomanry who were killed and includes actor David Niven’s father who was killed in Gallipoli. His grandsons in the USA have supported the project and the occasion attracted a host of national and local media.