Pals Statue Receives Funding Boost

At Astley Hall Chorley on Friday, 4th July Lindsay Hoyle, the MP for Chorley, announced that funds had been raised to allow the project to go ahead, as well as unveiling the image of the proposed memorial.

Painting of the proposed statue by local artist Peter Hodgkinson

Painting of the proposed statue by local artist Peter Hodgkinson

The image, drawn by local artist Peter Hodgkinson, is 5 foot x 4 foot pastel drawing of a WW1 soldier in full battle kit “going over the top”. In addition, Lindsay Hoyle outlined details of the next stage of the campaign which will see the statue being unveiled in Chorley during early July 2009. The campaign will continue to raise money for a plinth for the statue which will have upon it all the names of the original ‘Chorley Pals’.

The statue will be the first World War One memorial to be commissioned and erected in the U.K. in over two decades. Whilst there are two small informal and un-official memorial plaques in the trenches at Serre on the Somme in northern France, the project is unique as it will see a major memorial to the Chorley Pals actually in the town – 93 years on from when they left Chorley to go off to war and into history. It follows on from a recently un-veiled memorial tablet to the Chorley Pals, placed on the wall of Booth’s Supermarket in Chorley by the local branch of The British Legion.

It will also be the first statue to be erected in Chorley town centre (the official town war memorial is a simple cross memorial with no names upon it, situated at the entrance to the local park). It will also be the first and only memorial to have names of Chorley men on it.

Astley Hall was chosen for the venue of the announcement, as it has a memorial room to all the men from the town who fought in the First World War. It is a suitable back drop, containing large photographs of the Chorley Pals Company – the men, their medals and memorabilia & an illuminated scroll of all the original Pals Company (215 men).

Also at the announcement at Astley Hall were Peter Hodgkinson – Preston based sculptor who has been commissioned to design the statue (his commissions include Tom Finney ‘Splash’ at Preston North End FC, Les Dawson and Wallace & Gromit). Sister Francis (Catherine Calderbank), a 92 year old nun from Chorley whose father Private Henry Calderbank survived the first day of the Battle of the Somme on the 1st July 1916, serving with the Chorley Pals; he was killed in action at Ypres in 1917. Veronica Abbott, the youngest daughter of Private Thomas Leach from Chorley who as wounded at Serre with the Pals on the 1st July 1916.

Stan Dickinson, a Normandy veteran and Secretary of the Chorley Ex-Serviceman’s Association. Steve Penlington, Chief Executive of the Chorley Building Society who are supporting / promoting the appeal locally. Members of the British legion, locally, were also there.