Weʼre raising £100,000 to fund a project to create a statue of Emily Williamson, founder of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
- Didsbury, Manchester
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Who Was Emily Williamson?
An inspiring Victorian woman who channelled her outrage into activism.
Emily Williamson loved birds, hated cruelty, and was appalled by the fashion for feathers. Determined to halt the cruel plumage trade, she invited her friends to tea at The Croft, Didsbury, and asked them to sign a pledge to 'Wear No Feathers'. And so the Society for the Protection of Birds was born, in 1889. All of its members were women.
Emily's campaign snowballed. It triumphed with the Plumage Act of 1921, banning the import of exotic feathers. Countless bird species were saved from extinction, and the RSPB evolved into the powerful conservation charity it is today. Yet few, today, have heard of its founder.
Why does she need a statue?
A statue can be a powerful catalyst for change.
Today we are facing a climate emergency. Our skies are emptying of birds. A statue of Emily Williamson will provide a focus for a new generation of young people, including girls, helping them to understand the value of nature and the power of activism. We need to fight for our birds and biodiversity.
Emily Williamson's story is an inspiring one. One voice can make a difference.
Where will the statue go?
In Fletcher Moss Park, Didsbury, South Manchester – the beautiful landscaped gardens created by Emily and her husband Robert Williamson, who lived at The Croft 1882-1912. It is one of the North West of England's most valued open spaces; a nature-lovers' haven rich in birdlife and flora.
You'll find rare wildflowers, exotic trees and rare Alpine species. Tree creepers, bullfinches, siskins, song and mistle thrushes and the nuthatch are regular visitors. Emily's statue will add another popular dimension to the park. In 2019, Fletcher Moss Park won a ‘UK’s Best Loved Park’ award from Fields in Trust. See for yourself: take a virtual tour.
Who's the sculptor and what's the timeline?
24 sculptors expressed an interest in the Emily Williamson Statue Competition, from New York to Tuscany, Manchester to Brighton. 12 entries made the longlist, and 6000 members of the public voted for their favourite in February 2021.
We now have a shortlist of four: (below, L-R) Eve Shepherd, Billie Bond, Clare Abbatt and Laury Dizengremel are currently working on bronze maquettes of Emily Williamson, to be unveiled in July 2021, at the centenary of the Plumage Act. We plan to do this at Fletcher Moss Park, Didsbury.
Maquettes will then tour RSPB visitor centres throughout Britain, with the public voting on their favourite entry.
November 2021: Winning Sculpture Announced.
April 2023: Sculpture unveiled at Fletcher Moss Park on Emily's 168th birthday by her great great niece, the bird scientist Dr Melissa Bateson.
Who's funding this statue?
A combination of crowd funding, sales of a limited edition of the winning design and corporate sponsorship. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss sponsorship opportunities.
Who's running the campaign?
Didsbury councillor Andrew Simcock and author Tessa Boase are leading the team, along with the RSPB's CEO, Beccy Speight.
We have past form in getting statues done: the Emmeline Pankhurst statue campaign for Manchester was conceived and successfully run by Andrew, unveiled 2018. We also have experience in getting stories out there: Tessa's book about the women who built the RSPB, Mrs Pankhurst's Purple Feather (relaunched in paperback June 2021 as 'Etta Lemon: The Woman Who Saved the Birds') continues to inspire readers with its story of early eco activism. (Standing Up for Nature Book of the Year ).
Thank you for donating!
We're delighted to have you on board. As Emily Williamson showed us: from small beginnings, great things grow. To keep up to date with our campaign, visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter.
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Emily Williamson started crowdfunding
Leave a message of support
Jun 16, 2021
Amazing woman, and more than one very worthwhile causes!
May 20, 2021
We really enjoyed learning more about Emily Williamson, the beginnings of the RSPB and the campaign for a statue in her honour. Can't wait for 1st July!
David and Lesley Knass
Apr 22, 2021
We look forward to seeing the final choice!
Apr 16, 2021
I have never visited fletcher moss park before but I will look forward to visiting in the future.
Apr 5, 2021
Mar 30, 2021
Mar 28, 2021
Inspirational story. Can't wait to see it.
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About the fundraiser
Manchester's unsung conservation & social welfare pioneer: Founded the Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Didsbury, the Gentlewoman's Employment Association, the Princess Christian Training College for Nurses, & the Loan Training Fund for women's further education.