Last night at The Bay’s Public Meeting at the The Midland Hotel in Morecambe we learned that Eric is returning to Morecambe ASAP. Since The Bay broke the story of the Eric Morecambe statue being vandalised the community has been understandably concerned about if and when Eric will be returning home to the promenade. Good news! Eric will be repaired and reinstalled on Morecambe Prom as soon as proper repairs can be made.
In attendance last night was Chair for Culture on Lancaster City Council, Councillor Ron Sands, LLC Chief Officer for the Environment Mark Davies, statue creator Graham Ibbeson and Jim Cadman. The meeting was hosted by The Bay Radio presenters Danny Matthews and Nick Margerrison. There was also a great turnout from local people, town councillors and the Morecambe Carnival Team.
The purpose of the meeting which had been criticised by some online – was to give people the opportunity to ask questions to those responsible for restoring the Eric Morecambe statue about the ongoing situation.
Local MP David Morris could not be there due to commitments in Parliament but did send a message to support the restoration efforts.
Before getting under-way the attendees were treated to a performance by The Morecambe Brass Band, who set the tone for the evening with a rendition of Bring Me Sunshine!
The panel opened the proceedings with some personal stories of their involvement with the Eric statue, memories of Eric Morecambe and his lasting impact on Morecambe town as well as the world of entertainment.
Many questions and suggestions were made throughout the meeting, many people just wanted to know when Eric would be back.
Eric WILL Return The Facts:
- Lancaster City Council has a cross party agreement that the repair and re-installation of the Eric Morecambe statue is a Top Priority for the council. The statue is an important national tourist attraction and an important piece of local heritage.
- There is an insurance policy to cover the repair of the statue. Should the insurance money not be sufficient to cover the costs of the repair, Lancaster City Council will access other funds to cover the costs.
- An assessment of the damage to the statue and it’s support frame will be carried out on Thursday 23th Oct. Based on this assessment the scale of the necessary repairs can be ascertained. As Graham Ibbeson, who created the sculpture of Eric explained, the installation was designed to withstand very strong winds as well and being handled. As a result as stainless steel support frame forms a skeleton inside the bronze shell of the sculpture. If this has been damaged it may mean more extensive repairs are necessary.
- The sculpture will be transported from it’s current secret storage location to a foundry in London for repairs on Friday 24th Oct.
- As part of the repair, the sculpture of Eric will receive a cleaning and polishing treatment to return its appearance to a good as new. No other changes will be made to the statue in any way.
- The time-scale of the repair and re-installation is not certain at this point as a full assessment of the damage has not been carried out by experts. Graham Ibbeson and Mark Davies were very clear that the repair process would take as long as necessary and that to rush the repair job would be a disservice to both Eric Morecambe’s memory and the local community. Having said that, an estimate for late December, hopefully before Christmas was put forward.
Eric Morecambe’s Lasting Legacy
The meeting was also a hot bed of new and exciting ideas for Morecambe. Jim Cadman who has worked on many other sculpture and statue installation projects across the country has proposed an Eric Morecambe Day celebration event culminating in a large star studded event to be held in July 2015 on the anniversary of the original unveiling of the Eric Morecambe statue.
Members of the public voiced their support for a grand celebration but were quick to object to suggestions that the Eric Morecambe ‘Grand Event’ be held out of Morecambe, possibly in Blackpool due to the limited number of venues in Morecambe. Currently The Winter Gardens only has a capacity of 600 as the ground floor is the only floor in use. Representatives of Morecambe FC at the meeting declared their interest in hosting the event at the Globe Arena in the stadium it’s self as the venue for the celebration event.
Councillor Evelyn Archer who represents The Winter Gardens also announced that The Winter Gardens had been booked for the 2015 Morecambe and Wise Convention which could be linked to the proposed series of new ‘Eric’ events.
Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale, Amina Lone voiced the need to engage younger generations in the proposed Eric Morecambe Day Celebration as they might not be aware of Eric’s contribution to the town. Jim Cadman enthusiastically voiced support for this idea, saying that children could be engaged to produce commemorative artwork for the event.
Eric and Ernie Back Together
A new element was added to the discussion when Graham Ibbeson and Jim Cadman revealed plans for a new bronze relief to be installed opposite The Winter Gardens on the promenade. The artwork, around the size of a door would depict both Eric and Ernie performing together. The proposed artwork would be separate from the original statue but would add to the promenade and create a heritage trail between The Midland, The Winter Gardens and the Eric Morecambe statue.
This new addition to Morecambe’s promenade would need to find funding before it could move ahead and will be completely and entirely separate from the repair work to the original statue. Eric’s statue took 6 years to find funding 15 years ago. However we live in very different times and the option to crowd fund this project online is an option, drawing on fans of Eric and Ernie from all over the world.
Negative Becomes Positive
What started out as a shocking attack on a beloved landmark as been transformed into a positive opportunity to celebrate both Eric and our great Town. Look out in The Visitor and listen into The Bay in the weeks to come for updates on Eric’s return, the new Eric Morecambe Day Celebration and the new artwork installation.
The whole panel voiced their congratulations to the audience for creating such a positive atmosphere around the statue situation. They also invited further ideas and suggestions to be brought forward by the public.
The Morecambe Carnival Team would like to thank the panel for time listening and addressing the concerns of the Morecambe Community. Thanks to The Bay for putting the meeting and engaging the public in this way.
The Morecambe Carnival Team are looking forward to contributing to the Welcome Back Eric and Eric Morecambe Day Celebrations. Hurry home Eric!