Plans to erect an Elephant Man statue in Leicester have been abandoned after an appeal failed to raise the funds needed.
The Joseph Merrick Statue Appeal began its fundraising effort back in 2019. However despite an initial flurry of donations, organisers failed to raise the £66,000 needed.
The initial JustGiving page raised £3,053 of its target in the first two years of the campaign. However, donations trailed off forcing organisers to abandon the idea.
Citing a number of issues, including ‘aggressive’ comments on social media and a ‘stressful time’, the original organiser of the appeal, Jo Vigor-Mungovin, posted an update to official Facebook page, informing followers that the project was unsuccessful.
“It is with great sadness that I wish to inform that a statue of Joseph Merrick will not be erected in his hometown of Leicester. I have not managed to raise even close to the amount of money that I need,” she said.
“My wonderful sculptor was even able to reduce the cost as much as possible. Even with all of the support that I have received from friends, family, the media, and a number of Leicester citizens and others from outside the city, it has been a very difficult and stressful time.
“Especially dealing with nasty/aggressive comments on social media. I am one person, and this one person cannot manage.
“Once again, Leicester will miss out on this unique project. I would like to sincerely apologise to anyone that supported me through this endeavour.”
Instead, Jo says she is supporting a project in Whitechapel, London, which aims to put up a statue in a garden dedicated to Joseph Merrick – close to where he spent his last years at the Royal London Hospital. Jo has also confirmed she is discussing with the Leicester Civic Society about the possibility of erecting a plaque for Joseph in the area he was born.
Joseph Carey Merrick had a normal appearance when he was born at 50 Lee Street, Leicester on August 5 1862. However, he began to develop abnormal bone and skin growths during the first few years of his life. After developing deformities, he started appearing in freak shows across the East Midlands before moving to London.