Wigan mining statue appeal gets boost from star Maxine Peake

Maxine Peake's event will help the appeal
Maxine Peake's event will help the appeal

A well-known actor with close links to the borough is heading for Wigan to help the campaign for a town centre mining statue.

Maxine Peake, who has starred in everything from Dinnerladies and Silk to last year’s historical epic film Peterloo, is coming to do a fund-raising night for Wigan Heritage and Mining Monument (Whamm).

Maxine was a former Wigan RL Ladies player and has previously been given the golden spade award at the Wigan Diggers Festival for her support of socialism and radical causes.

She is the second high-profile visitor to Wigan in recent weeks supporting the heritage fund-raising drive, following an evening with journalist and broadcaster Paul Mason.

Sheila Ramsdale, chair of Whamm and newly-elected councillor for Douglas ward, said: “Maxine has been involved in a lot of plays about mining and pits and she’s a local girl.

“I mentioned the mining monument to someone who knows her and they said she would be interested in doing a gig.

“She’s now offered to come and do a question-and-answer session. I would imagine she will talk about her life, her politics and her climb to fame.”

Maxine’s event was originally going to be at Wigan Cricket Club but it will now take place at St Michael and All Angels’ Church in Swinley which is a bigger venue.

Local folk singer Corrie Shelley is also performing as part of next week’s event.

The massive fund-raising effort is to put in place statues of a miner, a pit brow lass and a child commemorating Wigan’s past as a centre of heavy industry.

The sculptures, by Steve Winterburn who did the Billy Boston artwork on Believe Square, will be installed close to the town hall which is the borough’s former mining college.

The three figures remember all those who laboured in the borough’s coal industry.

The group has already raised more than £120,000 and is now less than £10,000 short of the final total needed.

Having raised around £2,000 with the visit of acclaimed TV and media personality Paul, who spent his early years in Leigh, the team at Whamm are hoping Maxine coming to Wigan to share her story will raise a similar amount. It is hoped that the full amount will have been raised to allow the statues to be unveiled in a ceremony in August.

Maxine Peake is coming to St Michael and All Angels’ Church in Swinley for a Whamm fund-raiser on Tuesday, May 21 from 7.30pm.

Tickets are £15, including a glass of wine. To book contact Sheila by ringing 01942 244309 or emailing sheila.ramsdale@blueyonder.co.uk

Find out more about the statue project at www.wiganminingstatue.org.uk