Royal Family’s official sculptor to create Elsie Inglis tribute for Edinburgh’s Royal Mile

One of Scotland's best-known sculptors is to create a long-awaited memorial of the medical trailblazer Eslie Inglis for Edinburgh's Old Town.

Alexander Stoddart, who designed the sculptures of David Hume and Adam Smith on the Royal Mile, has secured the commission for the bronze tribute.

Stoddart, the official sculptor to the royal family, will be honouring Dr Inglis for her contribution as a pioneering physician, surgeon, suffragist, philanthropist and campaigner for women’s medical education.

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In 1914, she famously defied the War Office after being told ‘go home and sit still’. She went on to found the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service, which had sent 14 teams to Corsica, France, Malta, Romania, Russia, Salonika and Serbia by the end of the conflict.

Medical pioneer Elsie Inglis will beccome the first woman to be honoured with a statue on Edinburgh's Royal Mile.
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A campaign was launched five years ago for a permanent tribute to Dr Inglis, who set up her own medical practice, then a hospital for women and children in the city.

She will become the first woman to be honoured with a statue on the Royal Mile when the memorial is unveiled close to where she ran a maternity hospital on the High Street.

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Campaigners who have spent the past five years raising awareness of Dr Inglis’ life and work say the statue will become “an enduring and immutable memorial to one of Scotland’s greatest women”.

A search for an artist to design the statue was launched in August after an initial £50,000 was raised to help pay for the work to be created and installed.

An image of Dr Elsie Inglis was projected onto St Giles' Cathedral earlier this year as part of a campaign to see her honoured with a statue on the Royal Mile.

Stoddart said: “‘I’m very pleased and honoured to be asked to undertake this important task in a way befitting the renown of the subject.

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"There is something of a dearth of commemorative statuary of historical figures from the last century, owing to the decline, during the post-war period, of the understanding of the noble art of sculpture – and, in particular, the special challenges, disciplines and matters of aesthetic etiquette inherent in the special field of monument making.

"The figure of Dr Elsie Inglis is to be the first statue of a woman on the Royal Mile. This is of great interest, no doubt.

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"But I’m most concerned that something distinguished arises to honour this estimable person and to preserve the seriousness of the High Street as a place of immense historical import.”

Mothers and children demonstrate outside the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital in the Abbeyhill area of Edinburgh on the last day before it closed in October 1988. Picture: Denis Straughan

Former Lord Provost Frank Ross, one of the trustees for the Campaign for a Statue for Elsie Inglis, said: “Sandy Stoddart’s statues encompass a classical timelessness and enduring grace.

"We’re greatly honoured that The King’s Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland is to take on the statue.

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"He has the complete confidence of the trustees to design a truly world-class and fitting tribute to Dr Inglis, who will forever be remembered as a key figure in our history.”

Another trustee, Allison Collington, said: “Everyone involved in this campaign wants to see a permanent legacy match the importance of her work and all that Elsie stood for.

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Alexander Stoddart designed the statue of conomist, philosopher and author Adam Smith, which was unveiled on the Royal Mile in 2008. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

‘We’ve made our commitment to honour Elsie and we’ll make it happen – every donation, no matter how small, makes a real difference."

Robert Aldridge, the current Lord Provost, said: “There is no doubt that Dr Elsie Inglis – war hero, pioneering medic, advocate of women’s rights – is a truly revered and treasured figure in our city’s history.”

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