Friday, 12 August 2022

Possible George Harrison memorial plan for Townlands

A MEMORIAL to George Harrison could be located at the new Townlands Hospital in Henley.

A MEMORIAL to George Harrison could be located at the new Townlands Hospital in Henley.

The former Beatle?s widow Olivia has given her consent for a permanent tribute to her husband, who lived at Friar Park from 1970 until his death in 2001.

A spokeswoman for the Harrison family said they were in talks with the Friends of Townlands to create a ?lasting memorial? for when Townlands is redeveloped.

She added: ?It will very much be something to support and aid the local community rather than a statue or plaque.?

The move follows a petition organised by James Lambert, of Friday Street, which called for a memorial such as a statue and attracted more than 2,000 signatures.

Mr Lambert, who owns a PR company, said: ?No one seems to know exactly what form this community project will take but from a Henley point of view it?s great news. ?My impression is it will be an investment in a ward, something not so visible in a hospital environment.

?I still think it would be nice to have some sort of memorial that would encourage people from the town who enjoy George?s music to meet and express the joy of the music he made. It doesn?t necessarily have to be a statue but it would be nice to have something low-key like a garden.

?I don?t imagine the hospital will want Beatles fans from all over the world coming into the wards to visit a memorial.?

In January, Mrs Harrison wrote to the Henley Standard to give her blessing for a community project in Henley honouring her husband.

She also supported the Music on the Meadows festival in June where more than 20 acts performed in Mill Meadows and each one played a Beatles tune in tribute to Harrison.

Mr Lambert said: ?The campaign to create a memorial was definitely a catalyst in this. I?m very pleased that the community project that Olivia spoke about a few months ago is coming to fruition. It?s great that she and the rest of the family are embracing it.?

The redevelopment of Townlands has been delayed nine times, putting it back more than three years, and last week the Henley Standard reported that building work would not start until the spring at the earliest.

Guy Norgrove, treasurer of the Friends of Townlands, said that until the group knew what form the memorial would take any discussions with the Harrison family were ?entirely speculative?.

He said: ?We have, between us, considered a number of possibilities, none of which can progress past speculation until such time as it is absolutely clear what the whole Townlands site will look like.

?It appears that we won?t now be getting that view until the middle of next year, which should be a few months into the project.

?What I can say is that our objective, on behalf of the Harrison family and the Friends of Townlands, is to put in place at the hospital a lasting, relevant and appropriate memorial to George, who loved living in Henley and was, and is, held in high regard by its residents.?

The Lest We Forget project, which is creating three new war memorials for soldiers associated with Henley who died in the First World War, also wants to erect a plaque in a garden at the hospital.

Meanwhile, Mrs Harrison has applied for planning permission to demolish temporary storage and utility units at Friar Park and replace them with permanent storage facilities as well as security lodgings and a boiler house. Henley Town Council and Oxfordshire County Council?s support the application.

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