21st September 2021
A permanent memorial to palaeontologist Mary Anning is to be erected in Lyme Regis following a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Schoolgirl Evie Swire and her mum Anya Pearson started the campaign to install a long overdue statue in Mary’s hometown back in 2018. Evie regularly goes fossil hunting in the same spots that Mary Anning uncovered her most prestigious finds and was bemused why a permanent memorial to her hero did not exist.
Campaign group Mary Anning Rocks was formed, raising more than £100,000 for a bronze statue. The group is now seeking planning consent for the statue to be situated in a spot above Church Cliff Beach in Lyme Regis.
The campaign for a statue has the backing of by Prof Alice Roberts, who appeared in a promotional video commenting "I think it's so important that we recognise people like Mary Anning and celebrate them, it's about restoring her to her rightful place in the history of science.
"It's about making sure that anyone who visits Lyme Regis knows that this really important woman was there doing that work in the early days of palaeontology."
Sculptor Denise Sutton has been commissioned and a glimpse of the much-anticipated statue was revealed in May when a maquette of the Mary Anning statue was unveiled to Lyme Regis residents at the Marine Theatre. The scaled-down 3D model offers an insight into what the finished statue will look like and is now on show in the window of the fossil shop in Drakes Way.
Denise Sutton has begun work on the full-size sculpture, which is due to be unveiled on 21 May 2022, what would have been Anning's 222nd birthday.
Mary Anning was born in Lyme Regis in 1799 and went on to become a pioneering palaeontologist. Anning's discoveries in the early 19th Century helped shape scientific understanding of prehistoric life, but her work was never properly recognised.
Anning, whose life inspired feature film Ammonite, was widely snubbed by the scientific community and never fully credited for her discoveries because she was a working-class woman with little formal education.
The organisation is continuing to raise the money to create Mary's Learning Legacy, a sustainable educational program that will live on after the statue is built and help the next generation of Earth scientists to follow in Mary's footsteps.
You can donate to the Crowdfunding campaign at https://www.maryanningrocks.co.uk/pledge