A NEW group has been launched following the restoration of a 75ft monument which honours a naval hero.

A Grade II-listed obelisk built in memory of Sir Harry Burrard Neale has been refurbished by the Lymington Society and the town council.

Now a group called the Friends of Sir Harry has been created to help maintain the structure and other monuments to the celebrated naval officer.

Sir Harry rose to become Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet.

He captured or destroyed 20 enemy vessels during his career as well as helping to defeat a mutiny and was also MP for Lymington for a total of 25 years.

Guests at the launch included the group’s patron, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, the Tory MP for New Forest West, Sir Demond Swayne, and the town mayor, Cllr Anne Corbridge.

Lord Montagu used to attend Walhampton School, which is only a few hundred yards from the obelisk.

He said pupils not well enough to take part in games reported to the school’s matron, who took them on a walk to the monument and back instead.

Cllr Corbridge praised the success of the restoration work and recalled the day that councillors were able to climb the scaffolding and admire the 360-degree view.

The group’s chairman is retired dental surgeon Dr Don Mackenzie.

He said: “The joint Lymington Society and town council project to restore the Burrard Neale monument has been a great example of how a local organisation and a council can work together to carry out a major scheme for the benefit of local people.

“We are now pleased to be setting up a dedicated Friends organisation to help ensure the tremendous gains from this project are not lost.”