Eric sculptor unveils Ernie statue plan

MORECAMBE could soon have an Ernie Wise statue to join the one of his comedy partner, Eric Morecambe, which has been drawing thousands of tourists to the resort each year.

The man who sculpted our 'Eric' – unveiled by HM the Queen in 1999 – is keen to get involved in ano-ther project – either sculpting the pair together in a brand new statue or adding an 'Ernie' within the existing Eric memorial.

Graham Ibbeson, who has also recently completed statues of comedian Les Dawson and cricket umpire Dickie Bird, says the creation of a new statue in Morecambe next year would be fitting.

He told The Visitor: "Next year will be 10 years since the unveiling of the resort's Eric statue, 15 years since Ernie died and 25 since we lost Eric. It would be great, in 2009, to celebrate their lives again in a new way and keep their memory alive.

"I have created a small working model of the pair of them in typical pose which could be sited in the town somewhere that people thought was appropriate.

"Otherwise I have a vision of an 'Ernie' statue in what was Eric's traditional garb of a flat cap and mac sited on the prom just behind the current one and looking up at Eric – as though he's a tourist wandering past and noticing the statue.

"I think, as a visual gag, it's one that would work nicely."

Graham has worked recently with a professional fund-raising company that generates cash for such projects. It has succeeded in quickly getting the money together for the Les Dawson statue on the Fylde coast and for the Tom Finney statue in Preston.

The company takes a commission only after the funds have been raised through sponsorship or special events.

Local city councillor and former Morecambe tourism officer, Ron Sands said: "I believe such a project on top of all the other good news stories in Morecambe these days could really refresh interest in the original statue as we approach the 10th anniversary of the Queen's unveiling.

"And it would be a beguiling, highly visual story for countless newspapers and magazines and TV."

Coun Sands anticipated also that major local companies would want to get involved with making donations towards the project.