Out There column

Ingrid Kent with the Eric Morecambe statue.
Ingrid Kent with the Eric Morecambe statue.

It was a great pleasure to say hello to an old friend on Sunday.

‘Eric’ was back on the promenade and he was looking fantastic. I’d heard that the statue of Morecambe’s beloved son had been reinstated and couldn’t resist a visit.

We were amazed to see Eric looking in such superb condition. As many will know, the statue had been damaged by a man who was subsequently sectioned by medical experts. But on Sunday Eric was looking as good as ever and was attracting visitors – even in the freezing wind and rain.

On closer inspection it appeared that Eric had been lovingly restored and had been given a special protective coating. Sculptor, Graham Ibbeson, was on the radio a couple of days ago saying how he rarely thought of his sculptures once he’d completed them. However, he said ‘Eric’ was different. He had a real fondness for the sculpture and wanted to do all he could to restore it.

And it’s easy to see why – Graham has managed to capture Eric’s spirit, turning an inanimate object into something bursting with life. The sculpture captures the imagination of all who set eyes on it and people are irresistibly drawn to it.

Posing to have a picture taken with ‘Eric’ took me back to the time in 1999 when I first posed to have a snap with the statue.

As we stood there in the rain, I looked at the buildings along the prom. People often say things like: “Eric and the views are great, but if you look inland it’s a different story.” Yes, there is much more that can be done, but improvements are being made.

The old Palladium Cinema building is being done up, a new café is preparing to open and many of the fine old buildings have already been renovated. One of the great things about Morecambe’s seafront is the variety of its buildings.

Eric himself would, no doubt, have wanted his town to be treated with as much care and respect as the statue.