The return of the Eric Morecambe statue could become one big Christmas party.
That’s the hope of the man who created the famous sculpture, Graham Ibbeson.
Mr Ibbeson is visiting Morecambe today (Wednesday) to see for the first time the damage to the statue of the town’s favourite son.
The iconic landmark was attacked with a hacksaw on October 11 and has been removed for repairs.
Mr Ibbeson believes Eric can be fixed in six to eight weeks and is backing plans for a special Christmas ceremony to re-unveil the statue on the seafront.
“A Morecambe Christmas Show just like the old Morecambe and Wise Christmas shows, I think it’s apt,” he said.
“Also it’s 30 years since Eric died this year, 15 years since the sculpture was unveiled and 15 years since Ernie died. It’s a very poignant year for fans of Eric.”
Mr Ibbeson was on holiday in Spain when he found out about the vandalism to his pride and joy.
“I was in the reception of my hotel and the email alert went on my mobile saying ‘Eric statue down, please contact us’.
“I thought it was somebody pratting about.
“I scrolled through Facebook and Twitter and saw him being hoofed away.
“It was complete shock and disbelief. He’s been making people smile for 15 years. I just couldn’t believe it, really.”
Mr Ibbeson will now personally supervise the repairs to the much-loved landmark at a foundry in London where it was originally cast prior to its unveiling by the Queen, following a campaign by The Visitor, in 1999.
“The actual main body hasn’t been damaged,” he said.
“There is a cut through the foot and the inner stainless steel framework, but it’s that which has scuppered this guy’s plans. It’s really hard to saw through stainless steel.
“But this frame will also cause us problems putting it back together. This is what keeps Eric up against the winds coming across Morecambe Bay. It’s double strength.
“So we’re going to put Eric in the back of a van, dig out the foot and the sub frame from the Promenade, and take them to the foundry.
“The foundry also needs to check the inner structure to make sure that hasn’t been damaged.”
Mr Ibbeson, who is from Barnsley, also created the sculptures of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in Ulverston, Les Dawson in Lytham St Annes, cricketer Freddie Trueman in Skipton, and actor Cary Grant in Bristol, to name just a few.
But he says ‘Eric’ holds a special place in his heart.
“It’s my baby.
“I made Eric Morecambe, the sculpture, but the Eric Morecambe statue made me.
“I feel very affectionate towards it. It’s one of the highlights of my career.”
Mr Ibbeson will speak at a public meeting at the Midland hotel in Morecambe tonight at 6.30pm, and he feels it’s right town residents have the chance to ask questions about the repairs.
“The character and the warmth that exuded from Eric, people want to be part of it and help bring him back. They feel as if they own the sculpture.
“This was paid for after The Visitor initiated a campaign. Pensioners put money in.
“There has been an outpouring of grief because it’s a loss.
“I know it’s only a seven foot lump of bronze, but it’s a seven foot lump of bronze of Eric Morecambe. And people love the sculpture because they love the man.”