A group of volunteers turned out to help spruce up a war memorial – after hearing about how a dedicated pensioner has spent several decades carefully tending to the site all by himself.
A plaque sits nestled among the trees in Endcliffe Park to mark the site where 10 US airmen died when their badly damaged B-17 Flying Fortress, known as Mi Amigo, fell from the skies during the Second World War.
Tony Foulds was one of a group of school children who witnessed the plane crash that fateful day in 1944 and has visited the site every month over the last several decades to pay his respects, tend to the memorial and lay flowers.
After Tony’s plight was highlighted by The Star and BBC an appeal was issued on Facebook asking for volunteers to come down to help him to spruce up the memorial.
About a dozen big-hearted people answered the call and turned up this morning to give the site a lick of paint.
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Julie Forrest, of Fulwood, said: “His dedication in keeping the memorial looking nice for all these years is amazing.
“We got in touch and asked him how we could help and he said he wanted it to be the best kept memorial in the world.
“He said painting the wooden fencing would help so that is what we have done. It has been a great turn out.”
Volunteers also thanked staff at Homebase on Chesterfield Road and B&Q on Queens Road for donating pots of green paint.
Meanwhile, an online fundraising campaign has been launched after people learned that Tony had paid for planters at the memorial out of his own pocket.
Julie said: “We had a target of £500 but it has already raised £700 now. If we can buy new flowers and planters without Tony having to fund them then that would be great.”
The story of the Mi Amigo has hit the headlines in recent weeks as support grows for a campaign to organise a flypast to mark the 75th year anniversary on February 22.
It has even been picked up by American broadcaster CBS and correspondent Mark Phillips was in the park earlier with a film crew to shoot scenes for their coverage.
He said: “I must have done over 100 stories about the Second World War over the last four decades and this is the first time I have heard of this one.
“When you think of the sacrifice the airmen made, and then you have a character like Tony aswell in the middle of it, then it makes for an incredible story.”
A Twitter campaign for a flypast has now been liked more than 26, 000 times and messages of support have flooded in from people from all over the world.
An RAF spokesperson said they are not in a position to comment publicly at the moment but The Star understands talks between both the UK and US air forces are underway for a flypast.
The Mi Amigo aircraft was returning from an intended bombing raid over Europe in which it was left badly damaged after being attacked by the Luftwaffe.
The story goes that the crew was attempting to make an emergency landing on the field in the park.
But after witnessing Tony and his friends on the grass the aircraft instead diverted and crashed into trees nearby, killing all the crew.
The grandfather-of-four, of Lowedges, previously told how he has developed a deep seated feeling of guilt over the crash, which prompted him to ensure the memorial is maintained.
The 82-year-old said today: “I want to thank everybody for turning up, the response is incredible.
“It will just top it all off if we can get a flypast.”