Design for statue of Lancashire nature pioneer up for public vote at county beauty spot

The campaign for a statue in tribute to a Lancashire-born nature pioneer comes home to the county later this year.

Saturday, 31st July 2021, 4:55 am

Emily Williamson was born in Lancaster in 1855, and went on to found the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which is now the UK’s largest conservation charity, with more than 200 reserves in Britain and a powerful role in shaping global conservation projects.

Now, in a campaign led by the Emily Williamson Statue Campaign in partnership with the RSPB, the public is invited to help choose the final design for a statue of Emily. Four maquettes – small-scale models of the statue – will be touring RSPB reserves throughout the country, including Leighton Moss, near Carnforth.

The crowdfunded statue is proposed to stand in the grounds of her home, now Fletcher Moss Park, in Manchester, where Emily moved when she married, as the focal point of this inspiring story.

Emily Williamson, the Lancaster-born founder of the RSPB. Picture: BATESON FAMILY ARCHIVE

Andrew Simcock, chairman of the Emily Williamson Statue Committee, said: “The key to a successful statue campaign is public involvement. Seeking community views on the designs helps the selection committee make a well-informed choice.

“I invite everyone to come and see the designs and say hello as I move around the British Isles visiting RSPB reserves.”

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• Clare Abbatt’s design places Emily next to a young girl who represents her great-great niece, Professor Melissa Bateson, who now works as a bird scientist. The intention is to engage visitors of all ages in the challenges faced by the natural world;

Clare Abbatts design for the statue of Emily Williamson. Emily was the Lancaster-born founder of the RSPB. The design is one of four maquettes which will tour RSPB reserves around the country to enable the public to see them and vote on their favourite. The winner could be placed in Emily's marital home in Manchester

• Billie Bond makes direct reference to ‘murderous millinery’ with a bird hat, turned upside down to become a bird bath. Emily is seated quietly and contemplatively on a bench in her garden: the visitor is invited to join her, and reflect on the story;

• Laury Dizengremel’s design depicts a young Emily looking tenderly and compassionately at a bird held in her hand. Laury’s aim is for people to have an instant connection to the statue;

• Eve Shepherd has conceived a design that reveals more the closer one gets – with a crinoline dress that is in fact an organic cliff face, a nesting ground home to the birds that Emily campaigned to save. It also reflects a concern for the future, with birds that are vulnerable today incorporated into the design; owl, heron, grebe and kingfisher.

Andrew Simcock will be at Leighton Moss on Wednesday, September 8, from 10am until 4pm, with all of the maquettes on display and more details on how people can vote.

Billie Bonds design for the statue of Emily Williamson. Emily was the Lancaster-born founder of the RSPB. The design is one of four maquettes which will tour RSPB reserves around the country to enable the public to see them and vote on their favourite. The winner could be placed in Emily's marital home in Manchester

Those that cannot make it to one of the RSPB reserves can vote online at www.emilywilliamsonstatue.com until October 31, 2021. The campaign has a Crowdfunder to which donations can be made via www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/emilywilliamson

Laury Dizengremels design for the statue of Emily Williamson. Emily was the Lancaster-born founder of the RSPB. The design is one of four maquettes which will tour RSPB reserves around the country to enable the public to see them and vote on their favourite. The winner could be placed in Emily's marital home in Manchester
Eve Shepherds design for the statue of Emily Williamson. Emily was the Lancaster-born founder of the RSPB. The design is one of four maquettes which will tour RSPB reserves around the country to enable the public to see them and vote on their favourite. The winner could be placed in Emily's marital home in Manchester