A UNIVERSITY academic is appealing for information about the unveiling of an historic Reading statue.

Statistician Dr Chris Stride, from the University of Sheffield's institute of work psychology, is leading a research project on sporting statues around the country. He believes the Grade II listed memorial of motorcycle racer, Bernard Laurence Hieatt, in Reading Cemetery, in Newtown, could have a key role to play in the history of such statues.

He said: "The statue above the grave is likely to be the UK's oldest statue of a sportsman or woman. After a year of looking, I am yet to find one older. As such I am very interested to have the exact unveiling date."

Dr Stride is documenting all of the 150 plus sporting statues in Britain, with around a third of which are football related. He said all but four have been built after 1985, making it "very much a modern phenomenon."

He added: "This is the one of the last handful I haven't got the full information on yet so any help would be much appreciated. This statue was most likely built in late 1930 or early 1931, since it would not have been possible to sculpt such a monument out of stone in the time between death and funeral.

"The funeral date is not what we are after. If any reader remembers the unveiling of the statue or has further information regarding the unveiling of it, it would be very gratefully received."

Hieatt, born in 1909, was the son of a Reading butcher, was a keen pilot and member of the Reading and District Motorcycling Club, He started dirt track racing, before going to the Brooklands racetrack in Surrey from 1927, often flying there from Woodley Aerodrome.

He also toured Europe and Asia with the British Motorcycle team but died aged just 21 on May 3, 1930, at Brooklands after breaking two world records during a 200 mile motorcycle and sidecar race.

Hieatt, who also achieved the coveted British Motorcycle Racing Club Gold Star in 1929 for lapping Brooklands at more than 100mph, broke the 100 miles record and the two hour record - covering 160 miles despite heavy rain - but with only a few laps to go, crashed while doing 83mph and was killed instantly.

Contact Dr Stride by emailing agore@berksmedia.co.uk