Committee forges ahead with plans for Billy McNeill statue

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THE Bellshill and Mossend-based Billy McNeill Commemoration Committee continues to go from strength to strength with their fundraising efforts in the Lanarkshire town.

On Saturday November 16, with members of the late Celtic captain’s family in attendance, including widow, Liz (above), over £4000 was donated to the campaign by enthusiastic Celtic supporters at a completely sold-out race night held in the town’s The Orb Function Suite.

The commemoration committee are working hard to raise a statue in the town to commemorate its most famous son, the first non-Latin captain to lift the European Cup with Celtic FC in 1967.

Already sculptor John McKenna, responsible for the Billy McNeill statue at Celtic Park (above)—as well as the Jimmy Johnstone and Bobby Lennox statues in Viewpark and Saltcoats respectively—has been commissioned to sculpt the Bellshill and Mossend piece of commemorative public art.   With £40,000 already donated from well-wishers, the committee are well on course to meet their goal of raising £70,000 for the statue, which will be situated at ‘The Gardens,’ adjacent to Bellshill Cross.

“We were delighted to be joined by Liz McNeill, Billy’s widow, and her family, and our honorary president, Mick Cassidy, presented Liz with a specially commissioned painting of Billy by artist, Steve Kilcoyne,” Vice Chairperson, Will Markey, said.

Chairperson Eddie Patrick Lynas also spoke about support for the commemoration, which has seen people from all over the world assisting in the efforts. “It was a fantastic event with donations pouring into the #StatueForCesar campaign, and not only locally, for it is clear the campaign is gaining traction throughout the Celtic diaspora in Scotland, Ireland, North America and Australasia,” he said.

The erection of the statue will not only serve as a memorial to the great achievements of Billy McNeill, but also to the tremendous impact made by immigrant communities who have made their home in the region.

Committee member Frank Devine said: “The memorial to McNeill, who, like tens of thousands of others in the local community, was of joint Irish/Lithuanian heritage, will also, in some way, reflect the outstanding contributions made by immigrants to Bellshill and Mossend over the past 150 years.”

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