The sudden appearance of a silhouette of Captain Sir Tom Moore at the front gates of the Ulster Hospital has left staff baffled.
The 10ft tall tribute, bearing a flag in support of the NHS and key workers, was spotted at the entrance to the Dundonald hospital over the weekend, but no one knows how it got there or who put in up.
When asked about the tribute, staff had to go on a search on Monday afternoon to find it.
“We imagine it is someone wanting to pay tribute to a great man ahead of his funeral,” a spokesperson from the South Eastern health trust said.
A reader who contacted the Belfast Telegraph about the tribute said it appeared to be a random act of kindness.
Captain Sir Tom, who died on February 2, aged 100, raised over £33m for the NHS by walking lengths of his garden at home in Bedfordshire.
Knighted by the Queen in July in a special ceremony at Windsor Castle, Sir Tom was hailed as a national hero for his fundraising efforts.
His funeral will take place in his home town and his family said that once Covid-19 restrictions permit it, his ashes will be interred in Yorkshire, where he will rest with his parents and grandparents in the Moore family plot.
His family said the veteran had spent the last few months of his life writing a book which he had planned to publish just before his 101st birthday.
Ahead of his funeral, his family has released a “so poignant” section of Captain Tom’s Life Lessons where he revealed he would “like to watch my own funeral from a distance” and laugh at “everyone making a lot of fuss over me”.
Separately, a sculptor is hoping to raise £28,500 to create a two-metre-tall bronze statue of Sir Tom to place in a hospital as a tribute.
Andrian Melka, of Bolton Percy, in North Yorkshire, said he hopes the sculpture will provide inspiration for staff, patients and visitors and remind them that “one step in front of the other will get you somewhere”.
Mr Melka said he was inspired by that moment to create the full-size statue - which will have a seat on the walking frame to enable people to interact with the sculpture.
He said: “I started after the death of Captain Sir Tom with a little model, just thinking of that moment when he finished his laps and he just raised a thumb up and he was quite inspiring to me seeing that.”
He added: “What made me decide was his determination for doing what he wanted to do at the age he was and it just reminded me of that old generation who fought in the Second World War.”
Mr Melka said he began the two to three-month process by making a small model and will go on to create a full-size statue in clay before making a mould for the sculpture to be cast in bronze by a London-based foundry.
He has set up a fundraising website to raise the money needed to cover the costs of the foundry and has so far raised more than £12,000.