A GROUP of residents behind the town centre’s Kes statue have distanced themselves from a council scheme which will see a six-foot-five ‘sculpture’ placed in Hoyland Common.

In memory of ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ author Barry Hines, the statue a life-size bronze sculpture of Billy Casper, as played by David ‘Dai’ Bradley in the 1969 film adaptation, holding his kestrel was unveiled to the public in 2021.

Sculptor Graham Ibbeson was part of the campaign, set up by Hines’ ex-pupil Ronnie Steele in 2018 on the 50-year anniversary of the book, and gave his services for free.

The project has been funded by organisations from all over the world in memory of Barnsley-born Barry, who died from Alzheimer’s in 2016.

The group managed to raise thousands of pounds for charity, and has been well-received by members of the public. However, a new sculpture is set to be unveiled in Hoyland Common later this month.

The statue, of Billy Casper holding Kes, is to be placed on Hoyland Road.

A report states the site had been specifically chosen due to its close proximity to Barry Hines’ former home.

It added: “Additionally, there are other filming locations in close proximity the most notable being the former (now closed) Casper’s fish and chip shop which is named after the main character of the film, Billy Casper. Neighbour notification letters were sent to surrounding properties and a site notice placed nearby.

“One comment was received raising support for the development stating that the sculpture will be fantastic for the Hoyland Common residents and it’s an honour to have the Kes sculpture in Hoyland Common.

“First and foremost, the proposed artwork is clearly designed to represent local culture and this is somewhat evidenced by the letters of support that have been received for the development, by a resident and a local councillor.

“The sculpture itself is constructed from steel, powder-coated with matt black weather-resistant and anti-graffiti coating.

“The chosen materials are considered to be suitable for the area, and clearly some thought has gone into the longevity of the sculpture with appropriate coating properties.

“This will ensure that the sculpture will be more likely to withstand the test of time and remain high quality throughout the lifetime of development.”

However the ‘Kes Group’, chaired by Ronnie Steele, told the Chronicle they want to distance themselves from the project.

He said: “After receiving many enquiries, and undeserved flak, our group need to announce that a new statue, about to be unveiled in Hoyland, is completely unconnected with our statue.

“Our group raised funds from ordinary citizens, to pay for the bronze sculpture and plinth that is now sited outside the Alhambra Shopping Centre in town.

“We also paid for a replica statue which was unveiled under the auspices of the Hoyland-based group, ‘Kes is Coming Home’. This fibre-glass replica is now on free permanent loan to Hoyland Library. Moreover, a £7,000 residue was also donated to the Barnsley charity, BIADS, and £1,000 was spent on Barry Hines’ blue plaque and celebrations on Hoyland Road in 2019.

“On the other hand, the most recent statue, which is to be unveiled in Hoyland in the forthcoming weeks, was created solely by Patrick Murphy, using ring-fenced taxpayers’ money, I believe.

“I sincerely hope this brings to an end any confusion between the two completely separate projects.”

Matt O’Neill, executive director of growth and sustainability, told the Chronicle: “The Kes sculpture on Hoyland Road, Hoyland Common, is an exciting two-metre statue of Billy Casper holding Kes facing the former home of Barry Hines, the esteemed author of ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’.

“This project is financed by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority using Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funds designated to support the cultural and creative industries in the region.

“Each principal town in Barnsley received £10,000.

“The sculpture was produced by Patrick Murphy, a Barnsley artist who successfully won the commission through a tender process.

“It is scheduled to be installed in May and is a tribute to Hines’ literary legacy and his close ties to Hoyland Common.”