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Via Scotland & Northern Ireland, Emily comes home to Manchester

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Four bronze maquettes of the RSPB’s founder Emily Williamson have now covered some 1000 miles between Britain’s most iconic birding reserves, spreading her story of eco activism and gathering votes for a winning statue. On 30 October they’re arriving at Manchester Art Gallery for two weeks: the focal point of an exhibition about the women who built the RSPB, and a unique Festival celebrating Emily's legacy (12-14 November).

The winning statue will be announced at 4pm on Sunday 14th November (voting closes 12pm on 14/11), at the Festival’s close, in the Art Gallery's atrium. We'll be keeping you posted throughout the run-up to the big moment.

TICKETS are now ON SALE for the Emily Williamson Festival, 12-14. We'll be turning the spotlight on an inspiring range of Manchester individuals making a difference in their own backyards, as well as some key female players in the birding and conservation world – including RSPB CEO Beccy Speight, the British Ornithologists' Union President Juliet Vickery, campaigner and Springwatch presenter Megan McCubbin, environmentalist and TV presenter Lindsey Chapman, and Emily Williamson's descendent, bird scientist Professor Melissa Bateson.

Looking back, a salute to Campaign Chair Andrew Simcock and his Emily maquettes grand tour. These must be the best-travelled statuettes in Britain, popping up against some of our most exquisite and most tranquil scenery. At the peak of the autumn migration last week, Emily visited RSPB Loch Leven in Perth & Kinross, Scotland to witness the spectacle of pink-footed geese flying in from Iceland by the thousand.

Karen Caldwell of RSPB Loch Leven was inspired by Billie Bond's sculpture of Emily. 'I like the way that the design tells a story and, in becoming a bird bath, provides a good resource for birds too. Allowing people to sit with her in an approachable way highlights that she was an ordinary woman making a huge difference.'

From here it was over the seas to Northern Ireland and Belfast's RSPB Window on Wildlife, a brilliant place to spot black-tailed godwit, common tern, lapwing and teal. Visitors were intrigued by the story of Emily Williamson and its four different interpretations. Colin, a RSPB volunteer, loved 'the sense of Victorian elegance and the level of detail' in Eve Shepherd's design.

As these images of famous bridges show, these must be the best travelled bronze maquettes in the country. They are now safely in their boxes in the store room of Manchester Art Gallery, waiting to go on display 30 October - 14 November. We hope to see some of you there!

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