Unique new statue of Britten as a Boy 'can inspire generations'
- Credit: Zeb Soanes
A new statue honouring a coastal town's most famous son could soon be unveiled on a popular seafront.
A community project has today (Saturday) been launched with the aim of raising funds to install a statue of Benjamin Britten, as a boy, looking out over the sea that inspired his music in his birthtown of Lowestoft.
Just yards away from where the world famous composer, conductor and pianist was born, and where he drew his musical inspiration from, hopes are high that a new public statue can be installed - as a community project is launched.
For the past year "an exciting project" has been running in Lowestoft.
And at a special fundraising launch event on April 30, Lowestoft-born broadcaster and children’s author Zeb Soanes and a team of passionate locals unveiled the community project they are leading.
It aims to create a statue of Benjamin Britten, as a boy, on the seafront opposite the house in which he was born, to inspire future generations of the town’s children.
Mr Soanes said: “Rather than the adult Britten at the height of his powers, we chose to celebrate him as the Lowestoft boy who went on to achieve great things.
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"We hope this beautiful statue will inspire future generations of Lowestoft children to gaze out to the horizon and dream big.
"When Britten was made a Freeman of Lowestoft in 1951, he said, ‘As an artist I want to serve the community.'
"I believe he would be delighted that, 70 years later, this image of his young self will continue to do that.”
The Britten as a Boy statue committee has chosen the UK’s foremost sculptor in bronze, Ian Rank-Broadley, to create the statue.
The sculptor, who holidayed in Lowestoft as a child and created the Diana Memorial Statue, has produced a model of the statue - a maquette - which will go on public display at the First Light Festival over the weekend of June 18/19.
Mr Rank-Broadley said: “The genius of Britten appeared in childhood.
"A statue of him as a boy in Lowestoft can inspire generations of children to follow their dreams.
"Bronze is for eternity, Britten deserves no less.”.
The Britten as a Boy statue committee believe that this is the first time a public figure has been commemorated as a child.
Local artist and teacher, Ruth Wharrier, said: “This statue will be a gift to generations of children.
"It will inspire and encourage them to have confidence in their own abilities and help them to achieve their dreams.”
The project has gained enthusiastic support from friends and admirers of Britten and his music, including the creator of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes; Dame Janet Baker and Sir Thomas Allen, who both performed for the composer.
Many notable Suffolk figures - including the author and illustrator James Mayhew, broadcasters Emma Freud and Martha Kearney, and the Countess of Euston, Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk - have backed the project.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: “A statue of Britten as a Boy, close to where he was born and grew up, would be a fitting tribute to one of the 20th Century’s most prominent musical figures.
"It would also be an important landmark from which both local people and visitors to Lowestoft can draw inspiration and it would showcase Benjamin Britten’s close bond with the North Sea.”
Adnams has also generously distilled a special limited edition Britten whisky to launch fundraising for the statue, which will be bottled in May and sold through their website.
Fergus Fitzgerald, head of production for Adnams, who lives in Lowestoft, said: “For children growing up in Lowestoft, the statue should serve as a reminder that Britten was someone who walked the same streets as they did and braced into the same winds and went on to do something extraordinary.
"I hope that Britten as a Boy can inspire a new generation to believe they can achieve whatever they want to.”
The statue has been welcomed by East Suffolk Council, Kirkley People’s Forum and the family of Benjamin Britten.
To follow the project, add your support or make a donation visit www.brittenasaboy.com