Commended – Grantham Writers Group 2021 flash fiction competition – The Iron Lady by Lisa Geary

Here in Newark-on-Trent we now have an Iron Lady of our own. Recently arrived at Midsummer. Human size and human height. Designed for touching. She’s holding a girl child’s hand and carrying a screaming small boy. Her coat has swish. Her face a mixture of care and watchfulness. She’s now standing on the Fountain Green. People are visiting her. Leaving little piles of stones, lanterns and bunches of flowers for her. Signs of respect and appreciation. Signals her memory will be kept alive for many decades to come. A stranger who has been welcomed into our town with photos, films and stories of how she became a heroine.

Polish, Irene Sendler, we have heard about your life and we celebrate your bravery and courage in leading so many children out of the Warsaw ghetto and finding them safe homes. Keeping their names in a buried glass jar, so that one day their old names could be matched with the new identities they were given as part of ensuring their safety, after you supported their escape.

One day you may be recognised as a saint. For now your memory has melted many hearts, and your representation has become poured and set metal. I know you’re not just iron, so I’m taking a liberty labelling you so. Hoping to prove Newark a better town than Grantham.

Funded by the Polish consulate. The Holocaust Museum in Laxton collaborated with the local authorities to confirm Irene’s new home in the Nottinghamshire town, which has strong connections with Polish people, partly due to the large section of war graves in the local cemetery of Polish airmen who flew from Lincolnshire airfields in the Second World War.

Created by English Sculptor Andrew Lilley. He’s cast a masterpiece. Representing human life in bronze in satisfyingly intimate detail.