“Welcome to Ulverston – Laurel and Hardy!!” So said Ken Dodd at 4pm on Sunday 19 April 2009 as he unveiled the long-awaited statue of the boys in front of the Coronation Hall in County Square.
The whole of County Square in front of the Coronation Hall has been redeveloped, with the statue and related paving being the major part of it – not forgetting, of course, that every penny of the money for the statue has been raised by the Sons. A bit surprising then that Harry Knowles, chairman of the Market Town Initiative, in thanking those involved, mentioned this very fact rather briefly at the end of his speech! It was then down to our own, yes our very own, Eric Woods to do the honour of presenting the statue to the town of Ulverston on behalf of the Sons of the Desert and he did us proud! Councillor Jeanette Jenkinson, the mayor of Ulverston, accepted the statue and duly handed over to Ken Dodd. Now, those of you have been to one of Ken’s shows will know that he is not known for finishing early, so we were in danger of having a rather long unveiling speech! Ken Dodd did us proud too, giving an affectionate speech about Stan and Ollie, calling them “the most famous, wonderful and fabulous comedians in the history of show business.” Saying that he had met and worked with many Princes of comedy, Ken Dodd meant every word when he called Laurel and Hardy “the Kings of comedy”. He went on to say that Stan was a modest man, and I think we will all agree with him when he said that Stan “would have been thrilled but a little embarrassed by the statue.” He also paid tribute to Bill Cubin and thanked Bill’s widow Lucy. His words were, quite rightly, rewarded with cheers and much applause, together with another chorus of our anthem! It was then time for the countdown – 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – and the specially made cover was duly taken off and the ‘special guests’ saw the statue before those who genuinely wanted to see it!! Ken Dodd was then presented with the original maquette which I believe was Graham Ibbeson’s working model.
Welcome to Ulverston – Laurel and Hardy!
Additional photos with thanks to Stephen Neale.
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