THE artist who designed the huge marble poppy sculpture in Royal Wootton Bassett claims the artwork can be restored, after the town council deemed it was unrepairable.

Mark Humphrey, who was born near Royal Wootton Bassett, gave the town the ‘Forever’ poppy as a gesture, to commemorate the 355 fallen service personnel who were repatriated through Royal Wootton Bassett.

The 4.5 tonne tribute, at the end of Marlowe Way, had collapsed after it was installed last October. Royal Wootton Bassett Town Council said this was down to a structural fault.

Mark brought over a stonemason from Italy to inspect the broken segments within a week of it falling apart, as well as conducting his own commissioned investigation with independent chartered structural engineering professionals.

Mark said: “The public should know the full history since the collapse of the Forever poppy.

“I have not been consulted by the town council regarding their decisions, communications with the insurers or press releases.

“I have not had the opportunity to discuss my findings, information and options, in an open group meeting with all relevant professional parties. I would therefore now welcome that the public have the chance to be made aware of this.”

He said there are various options to repair the sculpture, including one to send it to Italy, using the existing broken pieces with metal framework – which would have been done at a significant reduced price.

There has been a marble repaired version presented via sketches with the option to have this done in bronze as a choice as well.

Mark claims the town council stopped all communication with him in April and only got back in contact on Friday July 13 to let him know the insurers were not going to pay out.

He said: “I am extremely upset and disappointed about what happened to the poppy.

“My vision was to create a pertinent memorial in commemoration of our Armed Services from all conflicts, connecting generations of service personnel and current veterans during this poignant time of remembrance.”

The council had claimed that the remains of the marble have been put into storage on the outskirts of the town.

However, the artist claims that this is not the case and that it is being stored outdoors on a Wiltshire farm – and he says he has pictures to prove it.

When the Adver put this to the council, they stressed it is in a secure compound.

Mayor Michael Farrow accepts the verdict of independent specialist company Plowden & Smith, who have advised that the poppy should not be repaired or re-manufactured.

He said: “The insurers have concluded that it’s down to design faults and we have no reason not to agree with that conclusion. The town council is open to suggestions on what to do next in terms of replacing the sculpture, but we won’t be going down that route again as the same problem could happen.”

Although one of the Uk’s leading structural engineering company’s claim that the stone can be repaired and that they presented their findings to the town council.

But chartered structural engineers Tobin UK said: “We carried out a stress-strain analysis and produced a factual report showing how the poppy sculpture failed and how the forces interact.

“With this understanding and calculations, it is possible to remake or replace the artwork. Chartered structural engineer Mark Richards presented the summary analysis findings to Royal Wootton Bassett Town Council on November 30 2017, explaining what happened between the interface of the base and sculpture, and provided his professional opinion of how the sculpture can be remade or reworked using the original marble parts.”

Mark is hoping something will be in place come November, to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War. He believes that with crowdfunding and use of the existing parts, the estimated repair cost will be between £5,000 to £10,000.