THE long-awaited Billy Boston statue is all set for its big unveiling in 2016 after the target to build it was reached.
Thousands of pounds have been generated by the public, meaning £90,000 is now in the bank and ready to be spent on the ambitious project.
I can’t believe how much people are doing for meBilly Boston
The bronze statue has been designed and created by Hull-based sculptor Steven Winterburn who has been working on the statue for several months. It will now be erected in Believe Square in Wigan town centre at a special unveiling ceremony in the New Year.
Wiganers have taken part in numerous fund-raisers for the rugby league legend throughout this year and Billy Boston Statue Trust organisers have been delighted by their response. Former Wigan MEP Terry Wynn, secretary of the Trust, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. We initially announced £100,000 as our target because it was a rounded figure but Steve has kindly agreed to go ahead with it now.
“This includes everything; building and transportation costs and we are now looking at an unveiling in spring.”
Billy, who is also featured on a statue recently unveiled outside Wembley with other rugby league greats - also designed by Mr Winterburn - has been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many of his supporters.
He told the Observer: “I can’t believe how much people are doing for me.
“Wigan has so many great players so I’m really honoured to be chosen like this. It’s fantastic.”
Donations have flooded in from everywhere; young and old, Wiganers and fans of other clubs.
The biggest donation came from close pal David Whelan, who contributed more than £33,000 and there was an anonymous cheque for £10,000. But it is also the many small cheques and cash donations which have touched the hearts of the Trust members
Mr Wynn said: “There have been so many people who have dug deep and helped to get the statue up and running.
“One elderly couple handed over £300 because they thought Billy was worth every penny.
“It’s so good the people of Wigan have recognised Billy in this way.
“Within the next three months we should see this statue built and put in place and hopefully will become a major tourist attraction.
“I know some people wanted it outside the DW Stadium but we think the town centre, facing Central Park, with so many people passing through every day, is the perfect spot.”
Mr Wynn also believes that the statue won’t only represent Wigan for rugby league but sport and the town as a whole too.
“I know it’s Billy and it’s rugby league but it shows Wigan for the sporting town it is,” he said.
“This was a man who broke boundaries moving to a town where people were so accepting and welcoming.
“He moved here as a young man from South Wales and everyone in Wigan greeted him with open arms.
“Wiganers are good people and Billy typifies this.”
To read more about the statue visit BuildBilly.org