A statue has been erected of Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin outside the British Council in the Mall. Made from alloy used in the construction of rockets it is a gift to London from the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos. The statue shows Gagarin in a space suit and is cast from the original mould used for a statue in the town of Lyubertsy, where Gagarin trained as a foundry worker.
To me Yuri Gagarin is the ultimate hero. The first animal to orbit the earth Laika the ‘space dog’ unfortunately died in space. Despite this on 12th April 1961 Yuri Gagarin was strapped into a rocket, the Vostok 1 space capsule and blasted into space. Orbit was achieved by falling back to earth, which due to the curvature of the planet he kept missing and therefore completed an orbit. This not only sounds impossible it seems insanely dangerous. Space travel seems almost mundane now but the bravery of this man is just immeasurable.
Gagarin visited London as part of a world tour and must have passed the very spot where the statue now stands when he had lunch with the Queen at Buckingham palace. He was driven there in a Rolls Royce, number plate YG1. The visit was not looked on so auspiciously by all in authority as this was just a month before the Berlin Wall was raised. He died on 27th March 1968 while flying a MiG in bad weather conditions and he’s ashes were buried within the walls of the Kremlin in Red Square.
Yuri Gagarin is a true modern hero.