Elsie Inglis relative backs Royal sculptor amid controversy

The great-great niece of Dr Elsie Inglis has supported the decision to appoint the Royal sculptor to craft a statue of the medical pioneer and feminist icon, despite ongoing controversy.

A contest had originally been launched for artists to create the bronze sculpture of Dr Inglis include to be situated near where she created a maternity hospital on the Royal Mile.

However, the contest was then scrapped in favour of naming Alexander Stoddart – the King's Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland – who had not entered a submission.

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The decision to choose him came in for criticism from artists, with an open letter published last week saying he “has no clear links with Elsie Inglis or feminism, and is very much not in the spirit of the original brief”, while the campaign to create the memorial was put on hold in the wake of the furore.

Dr Elsie Inglis 'deserves to be represented by a lasting civic monument of the same calibre as statues of men on the Royal Mile' - according to her great-great niece Kathy McGuinness. Picture: contributed.

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    But the choosing of Mr Stoddart has been welcomed by Kathy McGuinness, whose grandfather was Dr Inglis’ nephew.

    She said her immediate family was behind the decision, although she could not speak for her ancestor's other descendants.

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    She told the BBC: "We are delighted that Alexander Stoddart will be honouring Elsie with a statue in Edinburgh and that Scotland will finally be giving Elsie the recognition she deserves.

    "Through their hard work Team Elsie has ensured generations of girls will see Elsie on an equal footing with the men celebrated in statues throughout Edinburgh, as Elsie tried to achieve in her lifetime. Her statue will be here long after we have all gone, so its quality must be timeless, in keeping with other monuments on Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile and respectful of the important place Elsie deserves in Scotland's history."

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    Trustees of the A Statue for Elsie Inglis charity reportedly pivoted to choosing Mr Stoddart after watching the Queen's cortege in Edinburgh, saying the planned memorial "needed to meet with the historical consciousness of the Royal Mile".

    Dr Inglis is credited with establishing Scottish Women's Hospitals in Edinburgh in 1914 and 17 Scottish women's hospitals for injured soldiers across Europe, raising £53 million in today's money to buy medical equipment to help those on the front line.