FORMER poet laureate Sir John Betjeman spent more than 20 years in Wantage and wrote two poems about the town.

But he could soon cast a long-lasting presence after a drive to fund a statue of him was set up.

The Betjeman Statue Appeal hopes to raise £45,000 to create a copy of the Betjeman statue at St Pancras Station in London.

The bronze artwork will stand at the Church of St Peter and St Paul which the poet attended.

The 220cm statue will look up at the church tower, where an 18th century weather vane he fought to restore sits.

The campaign is headed by parish priest Father John Salter with help from Wantage Town Council members Fiona Roper, and Charlotte and St John Dickson. Mrs Roper said: “This is a great chance to enhance the cultural heritage of the town by celebrating its association.”

The sculpture was designed by Combe artist Martin Jennings and unveiled in the railway site in 2007. Sir John campaigned against the station’s demolition in the 1960s.

The poet’s daughter Candida Lycett-Green said: “This is a wonderful idea.”

Sir John wrote Wantage Bells and On Leaving Wantage. He died in 1984 at his home in Cornwall. The town had its first Betjeman Literary Festival last September which attracted more than 2,000 visitors.

To donate, email fiona.