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Statue of plastic surgery pioneer being unveiled

Sir Archibald McIndoe founded the Guinea Pig Club Credit: ITV Meridian

A bronze statue of pioneering plastic surgeon, and Guinea Pig Club founder, Sir Archibald McIndoe will be unveiled by the Princess Royal today.

Sculptor Martin Jennings, whose own father was treated by McIndoe for burns in WW2 will be present, as will some of the WW2 pilots or air-crew who were original members of the Guinea Pig Club. Sackville College, High Street, East Grinstead.

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Exclusive: The woman who drew the Guinea Pig Club

A remarkable piece of wartime history has been unearthed which sheds more light on the world-famous Guinea Pig Club of Sussex.

The 649 men were patients operated on by pioneering surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead during World War Two. Many were RAF pilots and air crew who received horrific burns in crashes or after being shot down.

For decades the club has kept a set of medical drawings of many of the men but did not realise the story behind them. They were drawn by a young volunteer nurse called Mollie Lentaigne who was asked personally by McIndoe to record his operations on paper for use in medical lectures.

Recently the club discovered via a social media search that Mollie was alive and well and living in Zimbabwe. She returned to East Grinstead to be re-united with the drawings for the first time in more than Seventy years.

The drawings, numbering more than a hundred, are in the archives of East Grinstead Museum, which keeps memorabilia and artefacts associated with the club. There are about 60 surviving Guinea Pigs living all over the world.

Sculpture in memory of Second World War surgeon

For the pilots badly burned in the Second World War HE was the hero. Using pioneering plastic surgery techniques Sir Archibald McIndoe rebuilt the horribly scarred faces and limbs of men who came to be known as the Guinea Pig Club.

And soon there will be a permanent tribute to the surgeon and his ground-breaking work - a bronze sculpture which will be placed in East Grinstead. It was known as the town that did not stare. Video report from Charlotte Wilkins.

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