THE man behind the scheme to build a towering regional landmark says he is negotiating a seven-figure sponsorship deal for the £9 million project.

And art dealer Simon Wingett hopes preparatory building work on the dragon tower project could start as early as June.

Erbistock-based Mr Wingett aims to create a 216ft tall tower topped by a huge Welsh dragon, set within gardens on land just off the A5 at Chirk.

Taller than Nelson’s Column and just 60ft shorter than New York’s Statue of Liberty, it would become a tourist destination and centre for Welsh language and

Mr Wingett has spent years putting together the Waking the Dragon scheme in memory of his late father, estate agent Frank Wingett, who died from cancer.

He claims it will bring in £1 million a year for research into the disease and create nearly 200 local jobs.

The scheme gained planning approval from Wrexham Council in February and Mr Wingett is now attempting to raise the cash to finance his dream.

He said yesterday: “It’s manic at the moment.

“We are talking to two large international banks about financing the senior debt – the bulk of the building costs – and I’m expecting to make an announcement about that soon.

“I have also been talking to a major global brand about sponsorship for the project, and that amounts to a seven-figure sum.

“Another big development is that the world’s biggest slate mine, which is of course Welsh, has agreed to donate the 11 stones, each 12 to 15ft high, which will form the Mabinogion, representing the 11 prose stories collated from medieval Welsh manuscripts which will be in the grounds of the tower.”

He added: “If all goes well we should make a start on building work in June or July.

“There’s a 52-week build period and I want the dragon tower up and running in time for the Olympics in 2012 so we can get some spin-off benefits from it.”