Tribute to a war hero

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: PARDON: Maxime Xavier with her painting of Alan Turing PARDON: Maxime Xavier with her painting of Alan Turing

A LYME Regis artist who painted Alan Turing as part of a national campaign to give him a posthumous pardon has spoken of her delight after it was granted by the Queen.

The computer pioneer and codebreaker was given a posthumous royal pardon for his 1952 conviction for homosexuality on Christmas Eve after a long running campaign to highlight the injustice he suffered and the lack of recognition he received following his death in 1954.

Maxime Xavier, who runs studio 19 in Broad Street, joined the national campaign for the posthumous pardon nearly five years ago and exhibited his painting at the recent centenary celebrating his birth in Manchester.

During the celebration, she presented her painting to the Turing family and is now looking to sell the painting, so that his legacy can be taught to future generations.

Ms Xavier said: “I painted the portrait of Alan Turing and called it To Make Amends because I felt it was my way of apologising to him for what he had suffered.

“In the bottom right hand corner I have painted the Enigma machine underwater with the letters ABY which means to make amends, and I am so delighted the posthumous pardon has finely arrived.”

During World War Two, Turing was based at Bletchley Park where he led a team trying to crack the codes of the German naval forces.

He has been credited with saving thousands of Allied forces lives and helping to bring an end to the war.

Turing was also highly influential for the creation of algorithms and computation methods, and is widely recognised as the father of modern computer science.

In 1952, Turing was arrested and prosecuted for homosexuality, when it was still illegal in the United Kingdom.

He was chemically castrated as part of his punishment, and was also stripped of his OBE.

He died two years later from self-inflicted cyanide poisoning.

Ms Xavier added: “Alan Turing was there for us in our hour of need. He, as did many heroes in the Second World War, tirelessly pursued a solution to end the war so that we could be free today.

“But sadly in his hour of need he was abandoned and no one stepped forward to help him, when he was arrested for being a homosexual. His punishment was chemical castration, which many believe led to his death with cyanide poisoning.

“I believe the world is indebted to Alan Turing, and it’s a shame it has taken 60 years for the posthumous pardon to be granted.”

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