THE Gwent-born scientist credited with discovering natural selection is finally to be immortalised with a statue at London’s National History Museum.
Plans were originally made to commemorate the remarkable life of Usk-born Alfred Russel Wallace after his death in November 1913, but the outbreak of the First World War meant these were abandoned.
But, with the 100th anniversary of his death now just over a year away, a £50,000 appeal has been launched.
A donation of £10,000 has already been given to the Wallace Fund and comedian Bill Bailey is spearheading an appeal to raise the rest so the statue can be unveiled on November 7, 2013.
Mr Wallace was born at Kensington House, Llanbadoc, in 1823 and is credited with co-discovering the process of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin in 1858.
He carried out pioneering work in south east Asia from 1854 to 1862 and among his discoveries was the Wallace Line – where species from either side of the line are of two distinct origins.
From this period, he collected more than 120,000 specimens of insects, birds and other animals, including more than 5,000 that were new to science – the bulk of these are cared for by the Natural History Museum.
At the time of his death, Mr Wallace was arguably the world’s most famous scientist.
But, since then his intellectual legacy has been overshadowed by that of Charles Darwin.
While Charles Darwin already has a statue at the Natural History Museum, Bill Bailey is the patron of an appeal to allow Mr Wallace to take his rightful place alongside him.
He said: “Wallace was a maverick genius, who deserves much greater recognition of his discoveries.
The statue will be seen by many of the 4.5 million people who visit the museumeach year and it will help raise awareness of this extraordinary man.”
The Wallace Fund must raise the remaining £40,000 in four months to give a sculptor enough time to create a life-sized bronze sculpture by next November.
For details, contact its chairman, George Beccaloni, on 020779425361 or firstname.lastname@example.org