Published: 18:26, 28 July 2021
| Updated: 19:19, 28 July 2021
Organisers behind a festival celebrating 200 years of Royal connections to Ramsgate are aiming to raise £50,000 to complete a landmark statue.
The 15ft sculpture of King George IV, who bestowed Royal Harbour status to the town, is near completion.
But more funds are needed to enable the bronze casting of the monarch to be finished alongside the required groundworks and plinth for it to be put up in the harbour.
A weekend of events is planned for September 24-26 which is hoped will boost the fundraising so the statue can be installed.
It would also serve as a poignant memorial to its creator Dominic Grant, who died suddenly last November, who was unable to complete it and see it in place in the town.
Dominic, who lived in Ramsgate, with his wife Julie Forsyth – daughter of Bruce Forsyth – was an internationally-acclaimed and award-winning sculptor spent two years working on the George IV statue.
He said it was part of his legacy to Ramsgate to honour his adopted home town and commemorate the Royal Harbour status.
Julie, who met her husband when they were both in the 1970s band Guys n Dolls, is leading the appeal to see the statue take pride of place in Ramsgate.
She said: "Dominic loved Ramsgate. We came here 12 years ago and fell for the town and the harbour – we bought a home immediately.
"We were told about the Royal status and were amazed there was no statue to King George so Dominic decided to do something about it, he gave his time and sculpting talent to the creation of King George.
"We would be so proud to see King George ‘returned’ once more to Ramsgate, marking that Royal status and as a legacy to Dominic’s amazing work and his passion for the place he came to regard as home."
The family managed to help fund the work to see the lower back of the statue finished and has also received generous support from actress Brenda Blethyn OBE.
She grew up around Ramsgate and says the statue would be a perfect reminder of the town's royal past and to mark the anniversary.
"My head and heart are in Ramsgate, and I love it here," said Brenda. "We've got a beautiful harbour, and we're about to celebrate its 200th anniversary."
Organisers are also applying for a member of the Royal Family to official unveil the statue once it is finished.
Royal Harbour 200th Anniversary Festival director Ralph Hoult said: "Upon receiving my OBE from Her Majesty The Queen, I took the opportunity to explain the forthcoming Royal Harbour 200th Anniversary Festival.
“Subsequently, we have spoken with the Lord Lieutenant of Kent’s office to see if a senior member of the Royal Family would attend the anniversary celebrations – we hope to confirm that shortly.
“But once the statue by Dominic Grant is erected after the celebrations and the final fundraising is completed, we rather hope young Prince George can unveil King George’s statue as one of his first official engagements – what could be better?
"The Royal Harbour 200th Anniversary Festival will be marvellous, and we hope it can assist fund-raising to put the statue in place permanently."
"We have spoken with the Lord Lieutenant of Kent’s office to see if a senior member of the Royal Family would attend the anniversary celebrations..."
The festival will feature a host of activities and attractions around the harbour and its history including tall ship Royalist, commemorations for the Dunkirk Little Ships, Royal Navy submarine simulator, funfair, market stalls, costumes, vintage vehicles as well as music and entertainment.
It will also feature a variety show called The Royal Harbour of Ramsgate Gala Show.
A spokesman for Blueberry Homes, the developer working on the £50 million beachfront development at Royal Sands Ramsgate, said: "The completion of the King George IV statue would not only be a tribute to the former king and its late creator Dominic Grant but add to the significant regeneration in this historic maritime town, showing that Ramsgate is well and truly heading back to its heyday."
In 1821, King George IV visited Ramsgate en route to Hanover in Germany and was so taken aback by the welcome he received decreed that the Royal Standard could be flown in the harbour three times a year.
It flies on January 29, July 19 and August 12 marking the king's accession to the throne, coronation and his birthday respectively.
To donate towards finishing the King George IV statue visit the JustGiving page here.