A KNUTSFORD businessman has helped secure the future of the £8million Bomber Command memorial in central London.

Michael Oliver, owner of Parkgate-based Oliver Valves, has offered to pay half the maintenance costs for the memorial forever through a trust fund in his name – amounting to £20,000 a year.

Philip Jackson’s sculpture placed at the heart of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park has won resounding reviews from the public and art world alike, winning the Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture in 2013.

The memorial is regularly voted one of London's most popular tourist attractions, according to Trip Advisor.

The cost to plan, design, build and dedicate the Memorial came to £6m; a small price to pay given the sacrifice of the 55,573 airmen of Bomber Command who were killed in the Second World War.

The custodian of the memorial, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, is still seeking to raise £1m to maintain the Memorial in perpetuity.

Sculptor Philip Jackson agreed to cast a limited edition of up to 20 bronze maquettes – miniatures based on the clay model which Philip used to create the final statue – and pledged that proceeds from their sale will be donated towards the Memorial.

Michael has purchased one of the maquettes, which will be the first to go on public display and has donated the sculpture to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund which will place it on permanent display at the RAF Club on Piccadilly.

Michael Oliver said: “In gifting the maquette to the RAF Benevolent Fund, I hope that future generations will be reminded of the huge sacrifices that Bomber Command made during the Second World War.

“We owe a huge debt and gratitude to those brave young men who took to the skies, day after day, and night after night and sadly did not return.”

PIC: 19koliverraf Michael Oliver OBE, of Oliver Valves, with RAF veteran Doug Radcliffe.