Dame Mary statue farce is leaving a bitter taste
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As a nine-year-old who watched Mary Peters’ triumph at the Olympic Games in 1972, I recall the pride that the people of Portadown felt in a girl who lived for a number of years in the town, achieving her lifetime and sporting ambition. The day she visited Portadown and her former home on the Tandragee Road is still talked about yet. Fast forward on 40 years and it is totally scandalous that Portadown are not celebrating this anniversary in some way and that the proposed statue is going elsewhere. An apperant ‘lack of funding’ was given as the reason why the project couldn’t get off the ground. But who were consulted with regards to funds for the statue - businesses as well as the general public along with local sports and youth groups.
Portadown 2000 have handled this matter extremely badly and along with the local council who have spent tens of thousands on a seemingly worthless statue which has still to be erected have given this town an image which at best can be described as ‘negative’. Along with the unfinished buildings in High Street and Thomas Street caused by the collapse of the Thornton Trust and the increased number of empty shops brought on by the recession, the town is not exactly the best place to bring a visitor to. Going back to the Mary Peters situation, it will be interesting to see how the two British girls, Denise Lewis and Jessica Ennis, who won Olympic gold medals in the event similar to Mary’s triumph at Munich are ‘feted’ by the areas they grew up in. One would think rather better than Portadown.
Unlike Denise and Jessica, Mary’s triumph at Munich was achieved at a time when her sport was less professional than what it is today and without the big money from the National Lottery and other organisations.
That makes Mary’s gold medal all the more outstanding and the remarkable sacrifice and hard work she made makes her a ‘legend’ in the eyes of the NI sporting public. Belfast City Council made a ‘faux pas’ on a proposed statue to George Best so that leaves the question - how do we treat our sporting heroes and heroines in this country?
This statue issue has left a sour taste in the mouth, Dame Mary Peters extremely hurt and disappointed as well as giving this town publicity that it could do without.
I use the facilities at Creative Destruction an find it horrifying that a youth orientated venue may be forced too close due to an unwillingness to compromise on the issue of rent and rates.
It’s great news that Asda are coming to town. It’s bad news that the posts are just 20 hours a week.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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