A VOLUNTEER who has dedicated years towards restoring a war memorial has said he is now in a race against time to see the monument finished as he may only have 18 months to live.

Kevin Starling, 67, has been working to restore the Shrub End war memorial since 2016 so the sacrifices of Colchester soldiers can be honoured.

The monument, which is 8ft in height, has been falling apart for years.

But with the influx of donations having gathered momentum and the ownership of the structure having been successfully traced back to the Church of All Saints, a surveyor can now submit a report to the War Memorials Trust so physical work can finally start.

With Mr Starling's body having rejected a liver following a transplant 14 years ago, however, he has been told he has between 18 months and two years to live.

He is now desperate to see the project come to fruition, with a final proposal to be submitted soon to the War Memorials Trust.

He said: “The surveyor has put in his final schedule of work, and I have had a message from the war memorial trust saying if we have got a final proposal, they will probably accept it.

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“We want to get this final process started; once the War Memorials Trust accept it, it can go to tender for the works to be done.

“[My health] is all the more reason to get this thing done.”

The memorial, which had originally been built in the 1920s to honour 17 men who fought in the First World War, has been fenced off for health and safety reasons.

But Mr Starling says the physical work which a stonemason will eventually carry out on the structure should be straightforward.

He said: “If a stonemason has it in their workshop, on a Monday, and it’s all they have to work on, it would be two weeks – but it never works like that, does it.”

The total cost of restoring the monument is £20,000, which is being covered partly by the War Memorials Trust and partly by donations.

“My personal predicament has added to my desperation,” Mr Starling added.

“I want to see it done before I have a memorial built to myself – it’s a difficult time, I’ve got to be honest.”