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Issue:- 17 November  2011

Sculpture back in ‘Best’ place

AN important Liverpool sculpture has been returned to its home after nearly 70 years. Dedicated to the memory of the city’s first organist, a bust of William Thomas Best had taken pride of place in the Great Hall in St George’s Hall for 44 years, but was removed from its location in front of the organ when the Second World War broke out. Just 2 months after it was taken away, the Hall, in particular the area around the organ, suffered severe bomb damage. In the 1950s arrangements were made for the marble sculpture to return, but the then city organist, Caleb Jarvis, objected as he felt the bust blocked the audience’s view of those playing the instrument. The bust was transferred to the Walker Art Gallery’s collection in 1972 where it remained in the gallery’s stores. Recently the team at the Hall and the Friends of St George’s Hall have been working with staff at the Walker Art Gallery to arrange for the bust to be put back on display in its original home within the next few months. On Wednesday, 16 November 2011, the city council’s cabinet member for culture and Tourism, Councillor Wendy Simon, will join May Robinson from the ‘Friends of’ group and Lottie Barnden Sculpture Conservator at National Museums Liverpool made final preparations for the bust’s return to the Hall.

Councillor Simon, said:- "The bust is a significant piece of the Hall’s history and I’m delighted it is home. It is a tribute to a man who, from a very early date, put Liverpool on the map in terms of music and performing, something the city is still renowned for today. Thanks to the hard work of staff at the Hall, the ‘Friends of‘ group and the team at the Walker Art Gallery, we can now look forward to seeing it take pride of place in the Great Hall once more."

William Best became Liverpool’s first organist in 1855, and his Hall performances became famous across the country, with people travelling hours to come and listen to him play the instrument. He retired in 1894 and died in the city on May 10 1897.

The 56.5cm bust was created by artist Conrad Dressler who also made all the other friezes in the Great Hall which make up “The Progress of Justice” series. Reinstalling the bust means that the Hall will now showcase the complete set of Conrad’s works.

Lottie Barnden said:- "The sculpture has been in the Walker Art Gallery’s collection for almost 40 years. Whilst it’s been in our care we used laser technology to clean the bust bringing the marble back to its former glory and I’m sure it will look great alongside the other friezes when it goes back to St George’s Hall on long term loan."

The Willis Organ is the third largest in the UK. It was built in 1855 in Liverpool by 'Father' Henry Willis and within months was acclaimed as the finest concert instrument in the world, thanks in part to Best who was regarded as one of the world's greatest concert virtuosi.

In its 156 year history, St. George’s Hall has had only 6 organists, all local men with international reputations. The city’s current organist is Professor Ian Tracey.

May Robinson, Chair of the Friends of St George’s Hall group, said:- "The Friends are delighted to provide the funds for the installation of the bust of W. T. Best. The association exists to give support to our magnificent Hall; the people's building of which we are so proud."

Road traffic victims remembered

THE World Day of Remembrance for road traffic victims on 20 November will be marked in Liverpool with special services.

There will be a remembrance event at the Memorial to Road Crash Victims in St John’s Gardens, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EL. at 1pm, followed by refreshments and the opportunity to talk to others in St George’s Hall. RoadPeace NorthWest invite those who have been bereaved or injured, together with those who support them, to this special remembrance of all road crash victims.

There will be a minute’s silence and the release of five doves in memory of those who have died on our roads. On average, five people die and many more are seriously injured each day on the roads of this country.

The event will be attended by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Frank Prendergast and other North West dignitaries as well as representatives of the emergency services and others who deal with road crashes and support road crash victims.

And at 3pm there will be a Service of Remembrance at the Parish Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas, Chapel Street, Liverpool , L2 8TZ . During the service the names of loved ones who have died will be read. The choir of St. Chad 's R.C. and C. of E. High School, Runcorn, and St Nicholas Singers will be performing. Following the service there will be refreshments and the opportunity for people to talk to each other.

Councillor Prendergast said:- "This day will be an opportunity for us to reflect on the lives of those lost on our roads and the effect that has had on their families and friends. It will also encourage us to do all we can to see that no more lives are lost in this way."

Pauline Fielding of RoadPeace NorthWest said:- "During these events, we will acknowledge the pain and suffering of the bereaved and injured, remember the lives of our loved ones and give thanks for the emergency services and all who care for the bereaved and injured. By highlighting the need for change, we hope to help prevent further death and injury."

The day provides a worldwide focus on both the overall scale and the individual devastation caused by road deaths and injuries along with the impact on families and communities. It originated in 1993 by RoadPeace as a response to road crash victims’ need for public recognition. It is also a day to commend the work of those involved in the aftermath of a crash; including fire, police and ambulance teams, doctors, nurses and counsellors.

In 2005, the United Nations called for all Member States to adopt and recognise the third Sunday in November of every year as the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Road crashes are a global epidemic and they are the leading cause of death to young adults worldwide. WHO estimates they will double in low and middle income countries by 2030.

Earlier this year the United Nations launched a Decade of Action for Road Safety with the aim of stabilising then reducing global road deaths by 2020. Major economies of the G20, leading developing countries and public institutions like the World Bank and WHO have all endorsed the Decade of Action.

A statement about the World day of Remembrance by Dr Etienne Krug, Chair of the UN Road Safety Collaboration, is available online.

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