Articles by Mark Richardson: A beloved Billericay statue has been stolen from a local park.
The bronze ‘Child in the Park’ statue was taken from the Special Garden in Lake Meadows Park. Police say they believe the theft happened between 4.30pm on Tuesday 14 February and midday on Wednesday, 15 February.
The statue, created by renowned Essex sculptor John Doubleday, was fixed to a brick plinth via a stainless steel plate welded to the statue. The thieves applied enough force to shear the welds leaving the SS plane and bolts firmly in position.
Police have been working closely with Friends of Lake Meadows and Basildon Council and enquiries are ongoing, but the Friends group on Sunday stated on their Facebook page that it was “extremely unlikely that it will be found.” Several metal thefts have been reported in the local area, and it is suspected that the statue has been melted down.
Efforts are now taking place to fundraise enough money to place something new on the empty plinth.
Donations are being taken at www.goldengiving.com/wall/friends-of-lake-meadows
The statue depicted a child surrounded by 17 animals found in the park, and is believed to weigh over 72kg. It required four people to carry it when it was brought to the park in 2001 as the Millennium project of Billericay Early Years Forum.
Chair of the Friends of Lake Meadows group, Charles Novis, was one of those to carry the statue to it’s home in the park’s Special Garden and helped carry out the grand unveiling with local children. He said it was a sad time for the park and the people of Billericay.
He added on behalf of the Friends group:
“During the 16 years, thousands of children, parents and grandparents have enjoyed the statue touching the animals’ noses and ears. In recent years, the second generation of children have visited with parents who themselves had enjoyed the statue. The people who have removed it in order to melt it down for perhaps £300 have robbed the children of today and thousands in the future of the opportunity to interact with real art and to see and touch animals.”
The project was funded by grants from Awards for All, Eastern Arts, Cleanaway Pitsea Marshes Trust, Basildon Council and Billericay Town Council, as well donations from many local people. Charles said the Friends group had received a huge response from the community expressing their anger and dismay at the loss of the popular statue.
The project also included a series of workshops run by sculptor John Doubleday with primary and secondary school pupils, and John returned last year for the opening of the refurbished garden.
“The upset felt by John the sculptor will be incredible, imagine spending seven months creating a work of art and to have it destroyed by contemptible people. These thieves have caused distress and upset to those who spent eighteen months planning the project, raising the money from many Billericay people and organisations and working with the artist as the project evolved.”
Article by Mark Richardson, The Enquirer