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Joanne Vigor-Mungovin

Joanne Vigor-Mungovin is crowdfunding

raised of £66,000 target by 84 supporters

Weʼre raising £66,000 to erect a statue of Joseph Carey Merrick - otherwise known as The Elephant Man in his home town of Leicester.

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a new type of fundraising where you can raise funds for your own personal cause, even if you're not a registered charity.

The page owner is responsible for the distribution of funds raised.


With continued research into Joseph's life, in April 2019 the final resting place of Joseph's remains were located in an East End London Cemetery. The story went global and the interest in Joseph rocketed.

Following these events which demonstrated a strong local, regional and inter/national interest in Joseph, a group of people interested in Josephs life decided that he deserves a permanent memorial in his home town.

The only memorial to Joseph is a small plaque at Moat College in Leicester which is not accessible to the general public and a conference room. Moat College stands on the site of the former workhouse, where Joseph lived from 1879 - 1884. There is also a blue information board near Lee Street NCP Multi-Story Car Park which informs the visitor that Joseph Merrick was born there. The information board tells you more about Sid James opening the Tesco superstore then our own local resident.

Please help to raise money to erect a statue of Joseph Carey Merrick in his home town of Leicester to ensure that future generations will never forget Joseph's courage and inspiration. The statue of Joseph will call attention to inclusion, equality, independence, choice, empowerment, respect and dignity to people with a range of disabilities and challenge the prejudice, discrimination and social isolation that many disabled people face throughout their lives at home and at work.

The majority - if not all - of the books, plays, and the one and only film of his life focus on Joseph's time spent in London.

Leicester, his town of birth is barely touched on. In fact, if you asked the general public the question " Where was Joseph Merrick born?" - most would probably say London; not many would know he was a Leicester resident.

Humberstone Gate May Fair, where it is said Joseph's mother was frightened by an elephant, which she believed caused her sons condition.

This statue will also remind us that Joseph was a native of Leicester and encourage visitors and tourists to the City, to look beyond our shopping centers and fancy condos and enjoy our rich history and heritage.

Leicester Market which dates back over 700 years and is the largest open air covered market in Europe.

A city council spokesperson said: "Joseph Merrick's story is a significant part of Leicester's history, and his story addresses important issues about society's changing attitudes towards disability. "The city council is not responsible for erecting statues, but if other groups or organisations want to raise the money, we are happy to help facilitate the process."

- BBC News 11 May 2019

We have also approached sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn who designed a statue to Leicester suffragette Alice Hawkins.

He said: "Clearly Joseph's physical appearance makes him different to most other statues. "There is no reason why someone with such disabilities should not have a statue, but there is a decision about whether to have him wearing his famous hood. "It is early days in the project, but I think it would be fascinating to work on."

He estimated the project would cost about £100,000.

The new initial draft of the statue. (09/09/19)

Joseph Carey Merrick known also as 'the Elephant Man' was born in Leicester on 5 August 1862.

Born without any indication of the affliction yet to come, Joseph lived at home first with his mother and father then, after his mother passed away and his father remarried, with his uncle then being admitted into the Leicester Union Workhouse at the age of seventeen unable to find work.

The gates of the Leicester Union Workhouse. The only surviving reminder of the institution which once stood here.

After four years in the institution, Joseph, knowing his appearance grew interest, wrote to a local music hall proprietor Sam Torr to offer his services as a novelty or freak, this being the only work options available to him.

The Green Man Public House, Wharf Street, Leicester. Once owned by Sam Torr, Jospeh's first manager. The building still stands today.

We would like to see a statue of Joseph around the East Gates/Clock Tower area of Leicester. This open space was once occupied by the old Haymarket buildings, where the people of Leicester once met to buy and sell hay and straw.

At 15 years old, Joseph was unable to continue working in the cigar factory. The increase heaviness and awkwardness of his malformed right arm, hands and fingers made it impossible for him to carry on with the delicate work required. His father managed to get him a peddlers licence and with a tray of ribbons, stockings, gloves or any other items, Joseph would go door to door and most probably stand in the area of East Gates and the Clock Tower to sell his goods.

In Joseph's own autobiography he writes

but, being deformed, people would not come to the door to buy my wares.

A view of East Gates/Clock Tower. Postcard dated 1906.

East Gates/Clock Tower as we see it today. (Photo:01/08/2019)

An individual member of the Merrick family, Mary Merrick who is descended from Joseph's Uncle Charles Merrick, agrees to a statue being erected in his home town and has given her blessing for the project.

As well as raising money through this crowdfunding page, we shall be hosting talks, walks and events and all the money donated will go towards the project.

Our commitment to all our donors will be:

* Find the ideal location for the statue where it can be admired for all.

* Set up public focus groups using social media to encourage community engagement events to raise awareness.

* Invite the public to participate in guided walks/talks to get to know the real Joseph Merrick and his life in Leicester.

It's high time someone with facial and bodily deformities is acknowledged in such a way. It's 2019, an all inclusive society, we shouldn't hide away from such antiquated issues.

Joseph wasn't a pioneer, but he is probably the most well known and the earliest example of a person with a disability who attempted to make his own way in the world.

A permanent memorial to mark the burial site of Joseph Carey Merrick at the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium.

***Please note. If we do not meet the required funds for a statue, the money will be used for another type of memorial for Joseph in Leicester. Any extra money raised not used for the statue will be donated to a disability charity.

Please DO NOT donate any money if you do not want you money to be used for any else other then a statue****

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  • Joanne Vigor-Mungovin4 months ago
    Joanne Vigor-Mungovin

    Joanne Vigor-Mungovin

    4 months ago

    Quick update..... You may notice that the amount we wish to raise has been reduced. We thought it would be more realistic to raise money for the statue and once the money has been raised and we know size/weight and location we can then concentrate on the plinth. The foundry costs + moulding casting and materials + the sculpting fee we are looking at £55,000 +vat which is approximately £66,000. Once the money has been raised I will concentrate on the plinth and seeking out a stone mason. Thank you again for all your support. Jo

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  • Joanne Vigor-Mungovin6 months ago
    Joanne Vigor-Mungovin

    Joanne Vigor-Mungovin

    6 months ago

    Not much to update, but just another big THANK YOU for all you continuing support. No one knows how long this will carry on for, but as soon as it's over we will start fundraising events. Sean our sculptor has started work on Joseph's maquette (mini statute). Once that is completed and we are allowed we have have a great mini unveiling. jo

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  • Joanne Vigor-Mungovin7 months ago
    Joanne Vigor-Mungovin

    Joanne Vigor-Mungovin

    7 months ago

    Hi I just want to reassure all of you who have supported and donated to this statute appeal that we are still he and still want to see a statue of Joseph Merrick. Due to the present global/local crisis we have had to postpone all fundraising events and appeals. Please be rest assured we will be back and we will carry on campaigning and raising money for this great cause. Thank you again for all your support. Jo Mungovin

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1 year ago

Joanne Vigor-Mungovin started crowdfunding

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Page last updated on: 9/15/2020 00.10



  • Anonymous


    Sep 15, 2020

  • Andrea Fletcher

    Andrea Fletcher

    Jun 2, 2020

    For Joseph ❤️ I know it’s not much but I’ve donated £50 x


  • Tony Pearce

    Tony Pearce

    May 11, 2020


  • Anonymous


    May 10, 2020


  • Andrew Smith

    Andrew Smith

    Feb 21, 2020

    Fantastic idea. We need to commemorate this heroic man.


  • Debbie Shaw

    Debbie Shaw

    Feb 14, 2020

    My Grandfather grew up in Leicester and recalls his mother talking about the Elephant Man. A fantastic cause making people aware that we are all human beings no matter what our differences are.


  • Mandy


    Feb 12, 2020

    Wish it was more but I will give again when I can.Keep up the good work xx


Joanne Vigor-Mungovin

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About the fundraiser
Joanne Vigor-Mungovin

Joanne Vigor-Mungovin


I am from Leicester and since writing my book on Joseph, I have seen an increased interest in Josephs history and his life growing up in Leicester. I have given many talks for historical groups and I appeared alongside Michael Portillo in his 'Hidden History of Britain' series.

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