A RETIRED police dog handler's dream of a permanent memorial for canine heroes is set to become a reality.

Paul Nicholls has been campaigning and fundraising for a statue called the K9 memorial for years and has now scheduled an unveiling for April.

His project, which will also include a museum exhibition about the history of police dogs, has been handed a boost with a £10,000 grant from the police, fire and crime commissioner.

The statue will be a celebration of the work of police dogs from across the UK.

Mr Nicholls, who recently moved from Elmstead Market to Clacton, received the Queen's Police Medal last year after 15 years working in the dog section where he helped crack cases with eight different loyal companions.

The statute which will be more than two metres high will be unveiled by Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick at Oaklands Park in Chelmsford.

Mr Nicholls, 51, is hoping dog handlers from all over the country will attend.

He said: "For us to be given the £10,000 is just incredible.

"Things are really coming together, we have planning permission and it is going to be really close to the entrance of the park.

"I am so proud to be able to recognise police dogs from all over the country for their work.

"I hope people might even come to Essex particularly to see it if they have an interest in.

"There will be at the museum nearby where we can show off the history of police dogs and people can get involved and try on equipment which is used.

"I really wanted it to be as interesting and interactive for people as possible."

The statue, designed by sculptor John Doubleday shows an officer with a German Shepherd and Cocker Spaniel based on esteemed former police pooches.

The officer is kneeling to depict respect towards the brave animals.

For more information about the project visit k9memorialuk.co.uk.