Leeds United legend Jack Charlton statue to go ahead
Work on a statue of Leeds United and England legend Jack Charlton is set to get underway after a successful fundraising campaign.
An appeal was launched in July 2020 to raise cash to commission a statue of Charlton in Hirst Park in his home town of Ashington, Northumberland.
Ashington Town Council pledged to put £10,000 towards the appeal, which has reached its £40,000 target.
Charlton was spotted by Leeds scouts while playing football in Hirst Park and described the football pitches there as his and brother Bobby's first training grounds.
Liam Lavery, deputy leader of Ashington Town Council, said the council has approved the commission of a sculptor for the project.
Mr Lavery said: "After months of hard work fundraising behind the scenes, I am thrilled that we have reached the requisite amount for this project to proceed."
"The last year has been so hard for so many people but the amount of support we've received from individuals, businesses, community organisations, councillors and Ashington Town Council itself has been incredible."
"Work on the statue should be underway very soon and I am extremely excited for the day when it is officially opened."
"It will be a fitting tribute to a man who is loved to bits in Ashington, the UK and across the world."
Mr Lavery, helped launch the appeal soon after Charlton's death on July 10 2020.
Charlton, a World Cup winner with England and a former Republic of Ireland boss, had been diagnosed with lymphoma before his death aged 85.
He was born and brought up in Ashington and regularly visited the town and spent time chatting with locals.
Jack Charlton spoke about Hirst Park in 2016 after it was named as one of 12 parks and cemeteries across the country to receive a share of £32 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.
He said: “The park was a precious place where me and Bobby learned our craft, training and playing for fun, before going on to join Leeds and Manchester United and then playing in the World Cup-winning England side in 1966.
“Hirst Park made it all possible for us and we would play all day if we could ... and we often did.”
Leeds United renamed the East Stand at Elland Road in memory of Charlton, the club’s record appearance maker.
Charlton made 773 appearances for the Whites during a one-club career.
He earned 35 caps for England and was part of the 1966 World Cup-winning squad under Sir Alf Ramsey, playing every match.