By: Ray Hidalgo
Statues may remind passersby of someone seemingly important, but giving back to a community is the mark of someone important. That’s what George Harrison’s widow, Olivia Harrison, had in mind when she rejected a petition by over 2,000 Henley-on-Thames residents to erect a statue to memorialize the late Beatle and proud native of the historical British town
“After many years of thoughtful consideration, and with great appreciation of the sentiment towards George, we have decided that a more appropriate way of honouring his memory in Henley would be to support a community project,” she wrote in a letter to the Henley Standard, the town’s newspaper. There were also worries about the statue drawing ‘unwanted’ attention from non-residents.
The quaint, old-school countryside feel of Henley-on-the Thames belies its large role in modern British history. It is home to one of the world’s most renowned boat regattas and was where famed ‘1984’ author George Orwell spent his childhood. George Harrison’s legacy lives within several town landmarks including a historical mansion, cinema, and a nearby garden center. Without Harrison’s intervention, they would have fallen into disrepair or demolished.
Although he launched the failed petition, town resident James Lambert harbors no ill will toward Olivia Harrison.
“It’s a shame there’s no possibility of having a memorial statue but obviously we have to take into account Olivia’s personal feelings,” Lambert told the Henley Standard. “I think a community project would be great and it will be exciting to see exactly how it transpires. We had been thinking of starting some sort of music festival for George each year on the anniversary of his death.”
For more on this story, head to the Henley Standard website.