A MEMORIAL to the Second World War Spitfire bought by the people of Darwen has been officially unveiled.

The model aircraft – one-twelfth the size of the real version – commemorates the huge fundraising effort in the town when £5,000 was raised by public subscription to buy the aircraft for the RAF.

The memorial has been built by apprentice engineers from the town’s metal fabrication firm WEC and taken more than two years to make.

The original Darwen Spitfire was accepted into service in 1941 and lasted about six months. It is thought to have been shot down somewhere over Holland.

The memorial was officially unveiled by MP Jake Berry in a ceremony attended by local dignitaries, Royal British Legion members and the apprentices.

Wreaths were laid at the site as part of the town's Remembrance ceremony.

Mr Berry said: “There is no greater privilege for an MP than to mark the sacrifice of the people of their town. And this is unusual as it commemorates the sacrifice of everyone in the town. It is a reminder that the war effort is not just about those who are out there fighting.”

The idea to commemorate the Spitfire was first suggested four years ago by then Darwen councillor Tony Melia, who said he was proud to see the memorial finally in place.

He said: “It looks absolutely fantastic. I can’t thank WEC boss Steve Hartley and the apprentices enough. I was very proud when I drove past and saw it in place.”

WEC’s Peter Roberts, who runs the apprentice academy, said: “I have looked after the project for more than two-and-a-half years, with 30 apprentices involved over that period.

“On behalf of all the apprentices I would like to thank everyone who turned out for the unveiling.”