Work to begin on Mary Anning statue as fundraising appeal reaches £70,000

mary anning statue
A sketch of the proposed Mary Anning statue, by artist Denise Dutton

THE Mary Anning Rocks appeal has reached the £70,000 mark, meaning work can start on the much-awaited statue of Lyme Regis’ most famous fossil hunter. 

While the online fundraising appeal hopes to raise a total of £100,000, it has now reached a level at which chosen artist Denis Dutton can start work on the statue.

Discussions over the possibility of erecting a statue of the 19th century palaeontologist Mary Anning were first held in 2018, after 11-year-old fossil enthusiast Evie Swire asked why there wasn’t a more prominent tribute to Lyme’s most famous daughter in her hometown.

The Mary Anning Rocks campaign was then set up and its online fundraising campaign finally went live in November 2020, with the backing of high profile supporters such as Sir David Attenborough and author Tracey Chevalier, who wrote ‘Remarkable Creatures’ based on Mary Anning’s life.

The campaign has also most likely benefited from the upcoming release of the film ‘Ammonite’, starring Kate Winslet as Mary Anning, which has brought the work of the fossil hunter into the limelight. The company which made the film also contributed £5,000 towards the statue appeal.

The Mary Anning Rocks campaign has raised more than £70,000 in just two months and will continue until mid-February with the hope of reaching its final £100,000 target.

Having surpassed the £70,000 mark yesterday (Monday), work will now begin on the statue with artist Denis Dutton having already released initial sketches of how it will look (pictured above).

Mary is in her full working clothes carrying the accoutrements of her trade, basket, bonnet, hammer and is accompanied by her dog Tray. The platform she is walking on will also show some of her most famous finds carved into the base.

A further £30,000 is still needed for for the planning application, solicitor fees, ground works, structural and engineering specialists to install the statue. The site of the statue has not yet been agreed, but suggestions have included near Cobb Gate or on the new Church Cliff Walk.

Who was Mary Anning?

Mary was born in Lyme Regis in 1799 to a poor working class family and lived on the site where Lyme Regis Museum now stands.

She collected and sold fossils from the Lyme Regis and Charmouth area from a young age, and her discoveries included the first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton; the first two nearly complete plesiosaur skeletons; the first pterosaur skeleton located outside of Germany; and fish fossils.

During her lifetime she was not fully accepted in the scientific community because of her gender and class, but Mary is now known as one of the most influential women in the history of science, and her life will be the subject of the much-anticipated film ‘Ammonite’, starring Kate Winslet, due to be released this year.

To find out more about Mary Anning or to donate to the statue fund visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/maryanningrocks

Woodmead Halls

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