DOLLAR Park, close to the centre of Falkirk, is noted for its floral displays and specimen trees. From tomorrow, people will be able to reflect on the achievements of one of the town's feistiest daughters, as they admire a statue of Dame Sheila McKechnie, director of the Consumers' Association, who died last year.

The bronze bust will be a permanent memorial to the woman who was known as a fierce campaigner for the rights of the ordinary person, first as a director of Shelter, then at the CA. Born in 1948 in Camelon, only a mile or so from the Dollar Park where she played as a child, McKechnie described herself as "a fully paidup member of the awkward squad", despite being a director of the Bank of England and a dame of the British Empire.

She was proud of her Falkirk roots, but would have been "in two minds" about being commemorated by a statue in her home town, according to Margaret Donnelly, who was her personal assistant for 20 years, both at Shelter and the CA. The bust was commissioned by Alan Grant, McKechnie's partner, from the sculptor Susanna Robinson, whose work includes a statue of Newcastle footballing legend Jackie Milburn.

"I was really pleased by this commission because it was a woman as well as a working-class hero. It was a bit of a challenge because Alan wanted her smiling and normally busts don't show teeth, because they are quite difficult to cast. She also had a lot of hair, but if you are going to cast a model in bronze, the smoother the better, " she said. In fact, she's been so inspired by the idea, that she has identified another woman she would like to make a similar commemorative bust of: Gwen Raverat, a Cambridge wood engraver.

It seems likely that McKechnie herself would have been happier at being remembered by the foundation set up in her name to help emerging campaigners achieve their full potential. The scheme will be launched this autumn and the first awards made in March 2006.

They will be tailored to individuals in order to show them "how to access the levers of power", says Darren Neville, campaigns manager of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation.

Chancellor Gordon Brown, who knew Sheila since they were at Edinburgh University together, remembers that: "She constantly challenged organisations to put the rights of people at the centre of their mission."As patron of the foundation, he will allow an award-winner to shadow him, while others will be mentored by people in business, politics and the media.

It was the combination of an understanding of media techniques, formidable research, an ability to construct a watertight argument and absolute commitment to her causes, which made Sheila McKechnie's campaigning powers legendary.

At Shelter, which had lost its campaigning edge when she took over as director in 1985, she turned it around to become a potent force once again, but will be best remembered for mounting campaigns on behalf or the ordinary consumer when she believed they were being misled, overcharged or not told the truth about what they were buying.

She took over at the Consumers' Association just as non-variant CJD was linked with BSE in cattle, and began to campaign for an independent and transparent food standards authority. It was instituted after Labour came to power in 1997, but she was dismayed to find it was to be headed by the scientist, Sir John Krebs, rather than a consumers' representative. As a result of her continued campaigning, Krebs produced a body of great transparency, which she found acceptable. In the Carbusters campaign, she took on the entrenched cartel of the car manufacturers and by importing cars directly, won the right for British consumers to buy cars at the same prices as in the rest of Europe.

Her unfinished business was the campaign on financial services.

She started naming and shaming endowment mortgage sellers who did not properly explain their product and exposing unfair practices in consumer credit . . .

and had only just got the increasing cost and diminishing services for directory inquiries in her sights.

The awards made in her name will at least ensure a new generation runs on with the baton.

For more information on the awards see www. sheilamckechnie. org. uk