DAI Bradley came face to face with his younger self when a statue to celebrate the life of Barry Hines was unveiled this week.

The clay sculpture isn’t the finished product. That will be cast in bronze and placed somewhere in the town centre, hopefully by May next year, part of a £100,000 fundraising campaign to celebrate the life of Barnsley-born author Hines and his work.

The statue itself, created by sculptor Graham Ibbeson, shows Bradley as the young Billy Casper, with the kestrel sitting on his arm.

David said: “Barry was a very modest man, didn’t seek celebrity or fame and at his funeral, when his wife heard of the plans she said she thought Barry would be very humbled and embarrassed if there was a bust of his head somewhere in Barnsley or Hoyland.

“So clearly the next option was something from his work. Although his The Price of Coal was successful, far and beyond was the guiding light of A Kestrel for a Knave which showed many kids to live their dreams just like Billy Casper did.

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“That’s the reason we chose the image of him and Kes together rather than the traditional two fingers in the air. And we all know the things which were placed on the Dickie Bird statue’s finger in town, which has a similar pose.

“This image was more of an educational gesture rather than rebellious.”

David had the chance to have a sneak peek at the statue last week, ahead of the public unveiling.

“Graham has done a very fine job and he told me how much he has enjoyed working on it. It really is a labour of love and he feels involved in it, rather than just being employed to create it,” David added.

“It is very valuable and so we have to find the right site for it. I hope the council treats it with the respect it deserves rather than just another statue. Barnsley’s culture is getting lost and the place is becoming like a Lego town.

“I want Barnsley to be more than Lego, to be proud of its cultural output. We should be holding onto it, and this is part of that.”

Graham said David Bradley joins only Dickie Bird in having seen themselves modelled while they are still alive.

“I’m really happy with the response,” Graham said.

“Usually my sculptures are memorials to celebrities who have already died, so I am working off photos all the time. When David came and stood next to it I was pleased to see I had got his profile right.

“We came up with various ideas but the committee’s consensus was this one. It allowed for a natural pose with the kestrel on his left arm. And David loved it, he gave some pointers to me about the kestrel which I was really pleased about - it let me change it and put jesses on which I was pleased about.

“He did say the quilted jacket was never actually in the film, it was just for the stills, but I’ve left it in as it adds some texture and makes it a little more interesting.”

Graham, 66, said this will be his last piece of public sculpture work.

“This will get moulded now. I’ve captured the image and it will go on to become the bronze when the funding catches up.

“I will be co-ordinating it at the bronze foundry and will take it through to the finishing line, right down to the plinth. It is my baby.”

FUNDING PUSH

RONNIE Steele was lucky enough to be taught by two Barnsley legends during his time at Longcar school.

One was Barry Hines, a man who would go on to leave a cultural legacy for Barnsley which includes the now iconic film Kes.

The other was Brian Glover, who would star in one of Kes’s most celebrated sequences, supervising a football match played on the now demolished St Helen’s School fields.

Ronnie himself followed closely in Barry’s footsteps.

He had a brief stint as a professional footballer, apprenticed at Oakwell for two years, before an injury sent him into 28 years of teaching.

“A lot of teachers at the time were from a middle class background, and tended to favour middle class literature. They (Barry Hines and Brian Glover) came from the working class and treated everybody equally. You felt worth when they were teaching you,” Ronnie said.

“The full final verse from the poem I wrote and read at Barry’s funeral went: “Some went to school to obey the law/ Some went to avoid the mines/ Some went for a love of learning/ I went for Barry Hines.”

It was Ronnie’s eulogy which got the ball rolling to make Barry’s statue a reality.
He now chairs the committee campaigning to create the bronze sculpture of Billy Casper and his kestrel and place it somewhere in the town centre.
They need to raise £100,000 to finance the project.

“It has been up and down. We started crowdfunding in January to tie in with the 50th anniversary of Kes, but we think we started too early before we had any merchandise to sell or show. So we suspended that and we are hoping to restart it in coming weeks.

“We have got about £20,000 right now and we are delighted with that amount. We will be selling 100 bronze resin maquettes, limited edition and 15 solid bronze ones. The last project, the Oaks Disaster, raised £30-35,000 from those sales so we are hoping to have similar success.

“The support we have had so far has been phenomenal. No matter your age you know Kes. And this isn’t just about pride in Barnsley, but in Yorkshire too.”
Author Milly Johnson is part of the committee.

She thinks the project is important to show the strength of Barnsley’s cultural heroes.

“It is something to say, ‘here’s a kid from Barnsley who did it’. We don’t get a lot of press about our success stories, but think how many there are - there’s musicians like Kate Rusby, to scientists like Selina Wray, to authors like Joann Harris. And Barry’s work is a massive part of the town’s identity.

“Now we have got something to show people and this is really the true beginning of the campaign.”