Princess Royal unveils sculpture honouring women in First World War

Sue Chadwick riding Rebus jumps over The Coffin Jump, a sculpture by contemporary artist  Katrina Palmer that was inspired by the work of all-female First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.
Sue Chadwick riding Rebus jumps over The Coffin Jump, a sculpture by contemporary artist Katrina Palmer that was inspired by the work of all-female First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.

A sculpture honouring the role of women during the First World War was unveiled by HRH The Princess Royal.

The Coffin Jump, by Katrina Palmer, celebrates the work of the all-female First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), who provided a vital link between field hospitals and units fighting on the front line. It combines sculpture, artwork and performance.

Princes Anne, who is a former Olympian horse rider, was treated to a horse and rider jumping over the sculpture. This performance will be repeated on occasion throughout the sculpture’s display.

The sculpture, which was unveiled on Friday 15 June, consists of a trench topped by a fence, inscribed with words from the diary of FANY member Muriel Thompson.

Senior Curator Helen Pheby met Princess Anne at the event on Friday. She said:

“I was lucky enough to meet the Princess Royal during her visit to the park.

“She was very complimentary about Yorkshire Sculpture Park and how the Park is not just for Yorkshire but is, in fact, for the nation and indeed the world.”

During the war, FANYs were a key presence on the front line, transporting food and clothes, treating the injured and providing entertainment for the troops. As trained individuals, the FANY were able to reach injured soldiers on the front line and provide emergency medical treatment before travelling to nearby hospitals.

Despite treating thousands of patients, FANYs have never been an official part of the British Army, but in 1999 they were granted permission to use the Princess Royal’s title and have since been known as the Princess Royal’s Volunteer Corps.

They were most recently deployed after the terrorist attacks in Manchester and Westminster, and following the fire at the Grenfell Tower last year.

Princess Anne wore full military uniform to the unveiling on Friday afternoon. The sculpture was jointly commissioned by Yorkshire Sculpture Park and 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.

During her visit to the region, the Princess Royal visited Alfred Brown Worsted Mills in Bramley and also met Lucy and Jane Batham, the owners of Tarte and Berry bakery in Farsley.

The sculpture will remain in place until June 16 2019.