Council: ‘Bless you, Mrs Robinson’ for gift

Maureen Robinson with her purchase '114770a
Maureen Robinson with her purchase '114770a

A NEW £48,000 Scarborough sculpture could rival the Angel of The North and herald a massive tourist boom in the town.

That was the overriding message from Scarborough Council bosses after officially adopting the Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers sculpture in North Bay.

The dominating steel artwork was bought last month for the town by philanthropic Scarborough pensioner Maureen Robinson.

Mrs Robinson’s act of benevolence came after the sculpture - by Ray Lonsdale - struck a chord with her desire to a permanent gift to Scarborough.

And after briefly leaving its North Bay base for an art exhibition, the piece, depicting a man wearing a cloth cap and overcoat looking out to sea, is now set to become a firm favourite in the town.

Cllr David Jeffels, the council’s portfolio holder for culture and tourism, said: “This is a wonderful gesture and one that Scarborough will certainly benefit from.

“We are extremely grateful to Mrs Robinson for doing this and it has already brought a lot of people into the town and proved popular at the Sandside art exhibition last weekend.

“I am certainly looking forward to it becoming a real focal point in the town and it could become our own Angel of the North.”

The statue will also be fitted with a thank-you plaque marking Mrs Robinson’s generosity.

Mrs Robinson, of Malvern Crescent, told the Evening News she was delighted to have secured the artwork for Scarborough.

She added: “The sculpture was due to leave on mine and my husband Michael’s wedding anniversary.

“For about 20 years I have wanted to donate something to Scarborough because I absolutely adore the town.

“With its departure coinciding with our anniversary, I did not want the chance to go by to have the statue here forever.

“My heart was in my mouth when I was going about trying to get it because I kept thinking if I don’t do anything now someone else would come in and it would have left Scarborough forever.

“I just love the tranquillity and the serenity of the sculpture and it is a wonderful thing for the town.

“It is something that people can relate to and so many people have already said how much they like it.

“I’ve been a saver all of my life and this was something I really wanted to do.”

Since arriving in Scarborough, the sculpture has attracted swathes of interest to the extent that local resident Jakki Willby undertook a campaign to raise funds to purchase it.

However, after Mrs Robinson made her frantic dash to Town Hall to make her offer, Mrs Willby has since offered the money raised to fund the plaque and an additional interpretation panel.