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. 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;12 entries made the longlist, and 6000 members of the public voted for their favourite in February 2021.
Eve Shepherd, Billie Bond, Laury Dizengremel and Clare Abbatt (clockwise from top left) unveiled their bronze maquettes on 1 July 2021 in Fletcher Moss Park, Didsbury on the centenary of the Plumage Act
Emily Williamson maquettes tour RSPB reserves August - October 2021
MON 9 AUGUST Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire.
THURS 19 AUGUST Dungeness, Kent
TUES 24 AUGUST Minsmere, Suffolk
WEDS 8 SEPTEMBER Leighton Moss, Lancaster (Emily's birthplace)
TUES 14 SEPTEMBER South Stacks, Anglesey, Wales (date TBC)
FRI 8 OCTOBER Loch Leven, Perth, Scotland (date TBC)
SUN 10 OCTOBER Belfast Window on Wildlife, Northern Ireland (date TBC)
Manchester Art Gallery: 16-31 Oct 2021
View the maquettes at the heart of an exhibition about women and the RSPB, including new portraits of the three Victorian female founders, and pictures of today's eco heroines at work. Plus schools engagement, sculptors Q&A, and an evening lecture on the RSPB's fascinating origins. Dates TBC.
31 October: LAST CHANCE TO VOTE
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 four shortlisted maquettes, 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 RSPB's surprising origins, '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 ).
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
Oct 27, 2021
David , Cathy and Sophie from Oldham
Oct 24, 2021
It’s great that people like this are remembered.
Oct 22, 2021
Cant wait to see this!
Oct 22, 2021
Oct 21, 2021
Oct 20, 2021
Nice to have a new female statue and deserved too
Oct 20, 2021
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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.