In July 2020, following the death of Jack Charlton, Cllr Liam Lavery acted on the outpouring of grief, locally and further afield, with the idea of a fitting tribute; a statue in his hometown Ashington.
Cllr Liam Lavery who kicked off a Go Fund Me page said, “Jack Charlton brought joy to millions of people across Britain and Ireland through football, but his influence transcended the sport. In life, he was a towering monument to the values that bind our communities – and his passing deserves that legacy to be carried on for future generations.”
The project received support from Ashington Town Council who commissioned well respected sculptor Douglas Jennings to create a life-size bronze cast statue of Jack ‘The Elder’, to stand proudly in Hirst Park, overlooking the fields where Jack first kicked a football. Douglas said, “I am delighted by this commission and honoured to be part of celebrating Jack Charlton’s incredible footballing career as a player and manager. It is an honour to immortalise this legendary figure who clearly deserves to have a statue in his beloved hometown of Ashington. As an artist I find Jack’s story fascinating and relish bringing to life his image for fans to continue to draw inspiration and strength from.”
As the project moves into extra time, Jack will be in exceptional company in Hirst Park. Local football and heritage enthusiast and expert Barry Mead has worked closely with Ashington Town Council to bring forward the story of Ashington’s football hall of fame. Jackie Milburn, Jimmy Adamson, Bobby Charlton, and Jack Charlton will all feature, including special coverage of the 1966 World Cup. Using interpretation panels, the aim is to educate, motivate, and inspire people by bringing to life the story of these four players in words and pictures, with a focus on their early roots and career triumphs.
Hirst Park was a special place for the Charlton Brothers. Jack spoke about Hirst Park, in 2016, after it was named as one of 12 parks across the country to receive a share of £32 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.
“The park was a precious place where me and Bobby learned our craft, training and playing for fun, before going on to join Leeds and Manchester United and then playing in the World Cup-winning England side in 1966. Hirst Park made it all possible for us and we would play all day if we could, and we often did.”
Mrs Pat Charlton, Jack’s widow is looking forward to seeing the finished statue, and to the unveiling event later in the year.
Chair of Ashington Town Council, Cllr Mark Purvis said, “The people of Ashington are rightly proud of their footballing heroes, and as a council we want to develop projects that local people value. Also, we want to encourage investment, and share our stories with visitors. I never get tired of football stories, and hope these will inspire our youngsters, not only to kick a football, but to be their absolute best.”
In the council coming weeks we will share an artist's impression of the work, but in the meantime the landscape plan gives an overall picture.