Let’s do Thora proud!

Dame Thora Hird.
Dame Thora Hird.

AN outrageous snub for Dame Thora Hird has renewed calls for a lasting memorial in the town to celebrate her life and work.

English Heritage’s refusal to honour the Morecambe-born actress has reignited the debate about how best to commemorate the Last of the Summer Wine star.

After the Government quango ruled that it was “too soon” for BAFTA winner Dame Thora to be awarded a special blue plaque, fans of the late actress have called for a fitting tribute to her in the resort.

Evelyn Archer, chair of the Winter Gardens Preservation Trust, said: “There is nothing in Morecambe whatsoever for Thora.

“We’ve talked about putting something in the Winter Gardens but it’s got to be right. That’s where she met her husband ‘Scottie’.”

Joyce Warrington, long -time Morecambe dance teacher and theatre producer/director, said: “I think it’s a shame.

“I think she was a very good actress and a very good ambassador for Morecambe.”

Tour guide Peter Wade, who organises Dame Thora-themed walks around the town, said: “There is concern that she might be lost in a great sea of talented actresses of her time.

“If there was to be a memorial it would need to be something different to the Eric Morecambe statue.”

Coun Ron Sands, cabinet member for tourism, said: “I am all for cherishing her memory in the town of herbirth because she was an outstanding individual, perhaps with a statue of her on a bench staring wistfully over the Bay.

“But for me Dame Thora has lost some of her glean. I was very disappointed with her in later life when she didn’t have a nice word to say about Morecambe.” Blue plaques are mounted on buildings where eminent people have lived and worked.

English Heritage consider awarding such plaques once an individual has been dead for 20 years or the centenary of their birth has passed.

Dame Thora, who died in 2003, was born in 1911 so meets the second criteria.

But a spokesperson for English Heritage’s panel, which includes actor Stephen Fry, said: “As Dame Thora had been proposed under the centenary rule, it was felt that it was too soon after her death to know how she will be regarded by future generations.”

Morecambe MP David Morris tabled an early day motion in Parliament in protest.

Actress Maureen Lipman called English Heritage’s decision “imbecilic snobbery”.