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West End Extra - by RICHARD OSLEY
Published: 31 August 2007

Unveiling of the statue in 2002: Michael Pountney, left, and Councillor Brian Woodrow
Thieves snatch memorial to campaigner and her cat Sam

Bronze statue a tribute to ‘formidable woman’ who took on developers

IT is a lost cat appeal with a difference. Sam, a moggy made of bronze who has kept a watchful eye over Queen’s Square in Holborn for the past five years, went walkabout over the Bank Holiday weekend, thought to have been ripped from his favourite wall by thieves.
The little statue was a memorial to Patricia Penn, a nurse known affectionately as “Penny” who in her retirement in the 1970s campaigned against the demolition of some of Holborn’s oldest buildings and protested against the poor living conditions provided by private landlords.
Sam was one of her pet cats but friends said he also acted as her “alter-ego”. “When Penny heard a whisper about something she would say that ‘Sam had told her’,” said Michael Pountney, chairman of Queen’s Square Residents Association.
“She would say in committee meetings that she heard from Sam that something was going on. Penny was a formidable woman.
“She wouldn’t let things rest, a tireless campaigner.”
He added: “Looking into this is not something the police would spend time on.
“I’m not sure that they even know about it.”
The bronze Sam was sculpted to look like he was on the prowl, creeping down a wall. Friends said the memorial ­symbolised Ms Penn’s campaigning.
It was unveiled in 2002 to mark the 10th anniversary of her death.
Tom Walduck, one of the trustees from Queen’s Square, said: “Penny was a very popular woman. A lot of people made contributions towards getting the sculpture, not wealthy people. I said when it was put up that it needed to be bolted down, otherwise Sam would sadly disappear. That was five years ago so I guess he has had a reasonable innings.
“When the council asked us about it, they asked if it had been taken away for maintenance.”
He added: “The trouble is we have such a problem with drug dealing and drug addicts in the square. Maybe somebody thought they could sell a bronze statue in a pub – but I don’t think they would get much more than £50 for it. It had a greater sentimental value.
“Unless somebody real­ises what it was and throws it back over the wall, I fear there is little chance of getting Sam back. Maybe we could appeal to somebody’s conscience. It would be great to have the cat back.”
Labour ward councillor Brian Woodrow said: “Penny would nag away at politicians to make sure things were done and she would always talk about Sam. She worked with me and Frank Dobson to stop the developers moving into Holborn. People were very happy to have the cat sculpture put up. It was a tribute to her.”

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