Months of planning, fund-raising and craftsmanship will finally come to fruition next month with the unveiling of a statue to Wigan rugby legend Billy Boston.
It will be on Saturday September 3 that the much-anticipated bronze installation will be revealed at a ceremony in Wigan town centre’s Believe Square.
Officials from the Billy Boston Statue Trust (the group behind the project) are hoping as many people as possible will come to the event to celebrate one of rugby league’s all-time greats.
Deputy leader of Wigan Council and chairman of the Trust Coun David Molyneux said: “It’s fantastic to see the many businesses, groups and individuals that have donated money towards this project – although not surprising as Billy is well loved across the nation.
“The fact we have managed to fulfill this vision as a result of other people digging deep and giving their time is a testament to Billy the rugby player and also Billy the Wiganer, so I’d like to say thank you to all those involved.
“We have kept the sculpture under wraps from the start, even from Billy and his family, so the reveal will be a fantastic surprise for everybody.”
The artwork has been designed and crafted by Hull-based sculptor Steve Winterburn and paid for by public subscription.
More than £100,000 has been raised by events, bucket collections and individual donations.
The Welsh-born rugby league superstar, who turned 82 this month, has spent more than three-quarters of his life in Wigan and is just as well known today as he was during his record-breaking playing days in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Billy said: “I feel so proud that people want to recognise my career like this. It’s a great honour.
“Wigan has had some great players over the years so to be recognised like this means so much. Wigan is home to me, the people have always been so welcoming and kind to me and my family.
“They’ve been fantastic and I’ve never ever thought about going back to Cardiff.
“They’ve treated my family so well, Wigan is such a special place with special people.”
Everyone is invited to the unveiling which will begin at 11am and will be watched by Billy’s family and friends from the sporting world. Entertainment will be provided by the Wigan Youth Zone brass band.
The unveiling will mark the beginning of a busy weekend for the town centre with the annual Wigan 10k the day after.
It also marks the start of Wellfest: a week-long celebration of ways for everyone to enjoy happier, healthier lives.