Sculptor to be commissioned for Jack Charlton statue
Plans to erect a statue honouring England and Ashington hero Jack Charlton have moved a step closer.
Ashington Town Council have approved the commission of a sculptor for the project.
Councillors agreed to the move at their meeting on Tuesday evening following a successful fundraising campaign.
Last July, the council started an appeal to raise £40,000 for the statue which will be erected in Hirst Park, where Charlton was spotted playing football by Leeds United scouts.
Charlton later described the football pitches there as his and brother Bobby's first training grounds and "our very own Wembley."
Earlier this year, a briefing was released and interested sculptors were able to formally submit their interest, with the council saying it received a number of very good and detailed responses.
Earlier this month, the council’s working group for the project thoroughly analysed the submissions and came up with a recommendation for the full council to formally consider and agree.
Coun Liam Lavery, chair of the working group, said: "After months of hard work fundraising behind the scenes, I am thrilled that we have reached the requisite amount for this project to proceed.
"The last year has been so hard for so many people but the amount of support we've received from individuals, businesses, community organisations, councillors and Ashington Town Council itself has been incredible.
"Work on the statue should be underway very soon and I am extremely excited for the day when it is officially opened.
"It will be a fitting tribute to a man who is loved to bits in Ashington, the UK and across the world."
He added: "Jack is an absolute legend in Ashington. Not just for being a great footballer, but also for being a lovely, decent man.
"Having a statue of Jack in Ashington will be a permanent reminder of what he achieved throughout his lifetime and is the least we can do to remember Jack’s successful life."
Last year, Leeds United renamed the East Stand at Elland Road in memory of Charlton, the club’s record appearance maker.
Charlton made 773 appearances for the Whites during a one-club career.
He earned 35 caps for England and was part of the 1966 World Cup-winning squad under Sir Alf Ramsey, playing every match.