AS THE statue to Celtic’s European Cup winning captain, Billy McNeill (above), in Bellshill edges ever closer, the committee behind the memorial spoke to The Irish Voice about the fantastic support they had received to date and their plans for the future.
“The Billy McNeill Commemoration Committee has had wonderful support from Celtic supporters locally, nationally and internationally, but we’re especially delighted at the support we’ve had from local Celtic Supporters Clubs,” spokesperson Frank Devine said. “On Saturday June 27, six members of Bellshill Brigada CSC successfully completed a 100km Cycle Challenge from Bellshill to Perth and managed to raise £3500, which they promptly donated to the campaign to erect a fitting work of commemorative art to the legendary Billy McNeill of Celtic FC.”
The magnificent donation by the Bellshill Brigada CSC followed on from a recent meeting of the BMCC where they again made use of Zoom conferencing technology. The meeting focussed on the manner in which the #StatueForCesar Campaign has caught the imagination of Celtic supporters, not only in Scotland, but also among the Celtic diaspora all over the world.
“Be it individuals or CSCs, the response to appeals for financial support has been astonishing and, despite a four-month lockdown we are now within touching distance of the £70,000 required to build the statue at Bellshill Cross,” Frank enthused.
With regards to the statue itself, phase one will formally conclude in May 2021 when the statue to Billy McNeill is unveiled in front of an anticipated crowd of thousands who will flock to Bellshill to see the great man being remembered by the community which bore him. It is expected to be a day of immense pride to every person who has donated to the appeal, because as the committee stressed ‘ownership rests with the community.’
However, the statue is only the beginning. Once charitable status has been achieved the community-driven and grassroots-led committee will drive forward phase two, which will have a wider community focus.
“We intend to remain embedded in the local community,” Frank said. “As a charitable foundation we will support local children and adults with additional support needs. We will develop partnerships with local schools, including Bellshill Academy and Cardinal Newman High School as well as our local primary schools. We intend to make a qualitative and quantitative positive impact on the lives of local people and we will encourage, nurture and develop sporting excellence among young people in this proud working class community.”
Those wishing to support the campaign to build a statue at Bellshill to the first man outside of Spain, Portugal and Italy to lift the coveted European Cup in 1967 can visit the Billy McNeill Commemoration Committee on Facebook and for £10 can enter the Official Celtic Opus Cesar’s Timbolla