Ten Years Ago
Feature from 2009
Where does the time go, how can it be ten years since the queen unveiled the statue on Morecambe’s promenade to the sounds of Bring Me Sunshine.
At the time the resort was undergoing a lot of regeneration and the statue played a huge part in things. Over the next ten years it would bring in much needed trade and give fans a focal point.
There is hardly a time when someone isn’t there, posing for photographs, reading the many inscriptions or taking a quiet moment to remember the laughter.
On the 10th anniversary, 23rd July 2009, the place was busier than normal. There was no official ceremony, no music or celebrities, just fans and holiday makers, beautiful sunshine and a lot of smiling faces.
BBC Radio Lancashire were broadcasting live from the statue from 1pm to 4pm, with John Gillmore inviting people down to chat about their memories of that day ten years ago.
People turned up who served the queen, people who have their name inscribed on one of the plaques and people who filmed the event all that time ago.
Photographs were brought by many fans showing how much the local scene had changed, with all but one of the facing shops no longer there.
Mike Fountain, Eric’s chauffeur, and Wiggy, Eric’s cousin, were there, enjoying the atmosphere and grabbing a quick interview on the radio.
We too were there, chatting and catching up with friends, grabbing snippets of information and meeting some of the crowd that had gathered.
It was not all about the past, Mark Bushell, the man behind the proposed Eric Morecambe museum was there, giving listeners an update on the progress, which can be heard in our edited highlights below.
Mark Bushell talks about the museum
Now it's our turn…
The local newspaper, The Visitor, ran a 4 page special covering the many aspects of the statue.
From the Visitor;
When the idea of a statue to Morecambe’s favourite son was first discussed, there were, as with any project, at least a few naysayers.
“Who’ll come to see a statue?” said some, wondering how much of an attraction a simple bronze sculpture would be.
These fears were instantly put to bed in the first year that the statue was unveiled.
In 1995 the town’s tourist information centre had received 100,000 enquiries from the public.
Four years later and this had doubled and the numbers have remained constantly high ever since.
In total 2.5 million visitors come to Morecambe every year and spend £131.7m, supporting 2,000 jobs.
What about the man behind the statue, Sculptor Graham Ibbeson; again from the Visitor.
Barnsley-based sculptor Graham Ibbeson was first asked to think about creating a sculpture of Eric 16 years ago.
It took 6 years before Graham got the go-ahead to make the finished item but for everyone concerned it was worth the wait.
“We knew it would be popular,” he said, “but it has been popular beyond anyone’s dreams. It shows that people genuinely loved Eric Morecambe.”
“Eric was the first TV personality and comedian to be honoured with a statue.” says Graham, “It captures the publics imagination. Millions of people have done the ‘sunshine’ dance along with the statue. It keeps people fit and they go away smiling.”
© morecambeandwise.com and The Visitor 2009