The preliminary sketches of the proposed statue showing Mary Anning with her dog, Tray.

The preliminary sketches of the proposed statue showing Mary Anning with her dog, Tray. Image: Denise Dutton.

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Work to begin on Mary Anning statue for Lyme Regis

A milestone has been reached in the campaign for a statue of fossil hunter Mary Anning in Lyme Regis.

More than £70,000 has been raised by a crowdfunder, meaning sculptor Denise Dutton can start work on the bronze statue.

The campaign was started in 2018 by schoolgirl Evie Swire, who regularly goes fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast in the same spots that Mary Anning uncovered her most prestigious finds.

Mary was born in Lyme Regis in 1799 and went on to become a pioneering palaeontologist. She found her fist fossil aged 12, and in 1823 she was the first to discover the complete skeleton of a Plesiosaurus.

Evie and her mum Anya Pearson have spent the last two years fighting for a permanent tribute to Mary in her hometown.

Evie Swire

Evie Swire with fossil finds on the Jurassic Coast.

About £30,000 still needs to be raised to cover planning permission fees, ground works and the statue's installation, but preliminary sketches have been released showing how the statue could look.

Anya says, 'We are thrilled to be able to share the preliminary sketch. Some details need fine tuning but overall it gives you an idea of how the statue will ultimately look.

'This depicts Mary at the height of her fame, as a young woman walking out to the beaches to hunt fossils. Mary is in her full working clothes carrying the accoutrements of her trade, beside her dog Tray.

'The platform she is walking on will also show some of her most famous finds, etched into the base.'

Sculptor Denise will now make a small, 13-inch maquette of the proposed statue.

Evie says, 'I'm really happy that we made the £70,000 and I really like how the sketch looks, it's so cool with Mary's dog, Tray. I can’t wait to see it now, it feels really real.'

The project will receive all pledges made on 12 February 2021 but the crowdfunder will remain open to capture late donation.

It is hoped that the statue can be unveiled on the anniversary of Mary's birth on 21 May in 2022.