Statue plan as tribute to Monkey Dave

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A PERMANENT tribute to Old Town legend Monkey Dave is set to be unveiled later this year.

Sculptor Leigh Dyer is busy creating the stainless steel statue of David Darley-Bentley who was well-known in the town.

David was nicknamed Monkey Dave as he used to walk the seafront as a boy with a monkey and pose with day-trippers for photographs.

An inquest last week found that he killed himself last summer aged just 54.

He was found dead in his flat on the evening of July 27. He had left two suicide notes one addressed to his former wife and one to his friend Guy McFarlane.

David’s friends and family have rallied for a permanent memorial to be erected in the Old Town.

Leigh, creator of the Winkle Island statue, volunteered to create a statue of a squirrel monkey made out of stainless steel.

He aims to erect it in time for the Old Town Carnival Week in August.

Leigh, who runs his own studio in West Street, said: “Ironically Dave came into my studio a few years ago and saw a skeleton of one of my monkey statues.

“He said ‘I want one of those’ but I never got round to doing it. Now he’s gone I will definitely be making it because he was just so well-known around here. He was part of the Old Town and it is only right that there is a tribute to him here.

“I was going to do my own tribute to him anyway.

“I hope to put it up in a public space probably outside a pub in the Old Town.”

David’s long-term friend Jonathan Mendenhall is helping to organise the statue and money is now being collected at the Hastings Arms to pay for the work.

David’s son Charlie is expected to fly over from Sweden to open the statue.

Hastings Arms landlady Susan Roberts said: “Dave had many friends and was very well liked. He contributed a great deal to the soul of the Old Town. He was part of the spirit of the place and we are planning something very modest but appropriate as a permanent memorial to someone who was very much loved by very many people.

“We want to keep the actual work a surprise but hope to have it completed and unveiled in time for Old Town Week this year.

Jonathan said: “He was a friendly and laid back character - often distinguished by the bright Hawaiian shirts he always wore. For many years he ran the discos during Old Town Week on Winkle Island. He was well-known for running the annual Beach Concert and The Pram Race.

He will be remembered every year - particularly for Old Town Week.

More than 400 people attended David’s funeral last August with a procession held through the High Street before a service at Hastings cemetery.