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The Ernie Wise Statue

Feature from 2008

Lisa's original letter

Campaign hots up

Lottery Bid
It all started just before Christmas 2007. A lady called Lisa Holdsworth sent a letter to The Yorkshire Evening Post, published on 13th December, saying that it was about time the Leeds area paid tribute to Ernie Wise in the same way that Morecambe had, and have a statue made.

A reply was posted the following week by a member of the Morley Murals Comittee, Paul Cockroft, agreeing and publicly stating that he would make it his new year’s resolution to get a statue erected in the area. Paul also asked other readers for ideas and comments.

Having contacted the Yorkshire Evening Post after Lisa’s letter and failing to get a reply (something that has happened on numerous occasions with the YEP!), we sent a letter direct to Paul Cockroft who kindly contacted us straight away.

His enthusiasm was clear from the start and we pledged to help the project in any way we could. Shortly after this we were contacted by the Morley Observer who were planning to take things another step further and try to gauge feedback from local people by running a full article.

The full article appeared in the January 9th 2008 edition, a full page special complete with parts of my original letter to Paul, and email to the Observer that wasn’t supposed to be public. This done, the next stage was to collect ideas, information and feedback before deciding whether to launch a national campaign or not.

We were invited to a meeting of the Morley Murals Committee on 8th Feb 2008 to put our ideas and findings to council and hopefully get things rolling. We compiled detailed costings, timescales and action plans from the Eric Morecambe statue campaign (with the kind help of Morecambe council and local newspapers) and provided them to the committee for reference.

As more meetings were held, we were kindly kept informed by Paul Cockcroft and the Morley Observer via relatives living in Morley.

Leane Clarke of the Morley Observer was fully supportive and provided an almost constant update in the local newspapers, keeping locals informed throughout. The newspaper even set up its own ‘Save Our Ernie’ campaign.

In mid 2008 the committee applied for funding to the People’s Lottery, and waited several months for the outcome. Sadly it wasn’t as they had hoped and in December 2008 they learned that their bid had failed.

Despite this setback, the Murals Committee were determined to continue. They lowered their sites and instead of a bronze statue they began to look at a stone one.

Melanie Wilks, a talented local sculptor drafted some ideas together and new financial figures were produced as a target for the committee to aim for.

Still supporting the statue, Leane Clarke and the Morley Observer published many articles about the new venture, praising the committee for persevering.

As the news broke nationally, interest increased but some other journalists were seemingly only interested in the initial failed project, looking perhaps for a bad-news story in the festive season.

Again the campaign was energised and articles were published with the new plans for a stone statue and its possible location. It was because of these ongoing articles that Doreen Wise became personally involved.

Quite by surprise, she contacted the committee and offered to provide the £8000 required to complete the whole project. All concerned were absolutely amazed and overjoyed at the news. As of December 11th 2008m the Ernie Wise statue was looking to be back on track.

What a turn around. From the low point in early December when news of the Lottery decision came through, to the absolute high when news of Doreen’s kind offer was announce a few weeks later.

© 2008
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