Winkle appeal hits target in weeks

Richard Read with artist Leigh Dyer at his studio
Richard Read with artist Leigh Dyer at his studio

MEMBERS of an iconic 110-year-old charity have been bowled over after their fundraising drive for an eye-catching new sculpture met its target in just three weeks.

The Observer revealed in January how the Winkle Club was trying to raise £8,000 for a new collection box for Winkle Island in the Old Town. They had commissioned artist Leigh Dyer – who produced the stainless steel sea monsters for the Chess Square off George Street – to work on the new Winkle statue and had a series of events planned across the year.

But organisers of The Big Winkle Appeal were stunned and delighted when donations to the cause came flooding in, reaching the £8,000 target before the end of January.

Richard Read, chairman of The Winkle Club, said: “We are made up with it - I never thought it would happen so quickly. I want to thank everyone who donated - this is an exciting time for the club. At the base of the Winkle we are going to have the three local fish - cod, plaice and sole to remind people of the history and there are going to be various symbols that refer to the club’s past.”

The club hopes to unveil the sculpture in the autumn, alongside a blue plaque which will mark the contribution the club has made to local good causes since it was formed in 1900.

Cllr Richard Stevens, vice-chairman of the Winkle Club, said the charity still captured people’s imaginations.

He said: “Firstly there is a great tradition and history which is still the real essence of the Old Town. Secondly there is the seaside sense of humour, the Carry On-style name that still gets a reaction from people. But thirdly the objectives of the club are very simple – we raise money and we give it to local good causes. We don’t have chief executives or administrators and everything we raise is given to the local community.”

Polo Piatti, who headed up The Big Winkle Appeal, said the final designs are now being drawn up for the sculpture, which will incorporate an old ship’s bell which will ring every time someone makes a donation.