Westminster hosts British ambassador during Churchill Weekend

Sixty-five years ago, Winston Churchill brought the world’s attention to Fulton with his famous “Sinews of Peace” speech.

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Sir Max Hastings

On the anniversary of that auspicious occasion, the National Churchill Museum on the Westminster College campus is hosting The Churchill Weekend on March 5 and 6. Event organizers are hoping a lineup featuring British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, famous historian Sir Max Hastings and the installation of the new Iron Curtain sculpture by Don Wiegand will once again draw the world’s attention to a small stage.

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Sir Nigel Sheinwald

“I’m looking forward to the whole thing. Once the sculpture is in place and dedicated it will be a magnificent addition to the museum, we have the British ambassador coming to Fulton, Max Hastings — having him in Fulton is fantastic, and it really puts Fulton, Missouri and Westminster College on the map again,” said Rob Havers, executive director of the National Churchill Museum. “It’s a good reason for the world to come to Fulton, Missouri.”

Havers said he has been trying to convince Sheinwald to visit the museum for several years now, and finally was able to convince him that the second Churchill Weekend — a defunct tradition that was revived last year — was the perfect opportunity to do so. Sheinwald will be the featured guest speaker during a special dinner at 7 p.m. on March 5 at the museum, a ticketed event.

“From the communications I’ve had with the ambassador’s office, his speech will be a major policy commentary about the nature of Anglo-American relations in 2011, and its history,” Havers said.

Festivities will pick up again at 11:30 a.m. on the 6th with brunch — another ticketed event — followed at 1:30 p.m. by the Iron Curtain sculpture dedication. The piece, commissioned by Board of Governors of the National Churchill Museum member Richard J. Mahoney and created by St. Louis-based sculptor Don Wiegand, captures the moment Churchill uttered the famous “Iron Curtain” analogy. Havers said the idea for the sculpture came during a discussion with Mahoney — who had commissioned work from Wiegand before — regarding ways to create more “curb appeal” at the entrance to the museum.

“Churchill came here, of course, in 1946 and delivered his ‘Iron Curtain’ speech, and we really wanted to capture the essence of that,” Havers said. “There are thousands of sculptures of Churchill, but none of this event.”

At 2 p.m., Hastings will deliver the 27th Kemper Lecture at the museum. Havers said Hastings — the author of 21 books including eight about World War II, a former correspondent for BBC TV and former editor of both “The Daily Telegraph” and the “London Evening Standard” — will focus on his book “Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord” (also published in the U.S. as “Winston’s War”).

“Max Hastings is a great writer and world authority on military history and World War II,” Havers said. “He has a lot to live up to, and I think he will.”

The weekend will conclude with a reception starting at 4 p.m. in the museum.

Tickets still are available at the National Churchill Museum for both the dinner and the brunch at $100 and $25 per person respectively. For more information contact the museum at (573) 592-5237.

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