Disability champion, the late Lord Jack Ashley is honoured in his hometown, Widnes

Runcorn and Widnes World: The sculpture of the late Lord Jack Ashley admired by his daughter, Jane The sculpture of the late Lord Jack Ashley admired by his daughter, Jane

A CRUSADING politician has been honoured in his home town.

A cold cast bronze bust of the late disability champion Lord Jack Ashley, from West Bank, has been donated by sculptor Phil Garrett.

Mr Ashley’s daughters, Jackie, Jane and Caroline and his sisters, Mary and Margaret joined Halton MP Derek Twigg as he unveiled the statue in Widnes Library on Friday.

Mr Ashley's daughter, Jane, said: "It is fitting the bust is here as it was just across the road Jack was carried aloft by members of the public after he was elected as the country's youngest councillor."

Mr Ashley was born on December 6, 1922. He left school at 14 to become the family's main breadwinner as a factory worker and crane driver.

He was soon a leading trade unionist in the chemical industry. His first political act, aged 18, was to seek out the town clerk of Widnes and enquire abotu tenants' rights.

He joined the national executive of his union and won a scholarship to Oxford.

He was a tireless crusader. For more than 40 years, first as an MP for Stoke-on-Trent South and then served in the House of Lords.

Mr Twigg said: “Jack was a man who overcame great adversity both being born into poverty and dealing with deafness.

“He made his name campaigning and fighting against injustice and disadvantage.

“He will forever be known for his success in fighting for the rights of the disabled, most famously Thalidomide. He was a superb MP and held in the highest regard in Widnes. We are very proud of him.”

Sculptor Phil Garrett, aged 41, was given around 30 photographs from Jack’s family to capture his image.

Mr Ashley's sister, Mary, aged 89, from Widnes, oversaw the project.

Phil said: “I get to know the person as much as I can. I feel honoured.

“Jack was somebody who genuinely cared. I wanted to make him look strong and thoughtful, as though he was about the make a decision.

“His sister, Margaret said: ‘You’ve really caught the likeness of him’. His family were very complimentary.

“I like to depict people who have made a positive change and influenced people at grassroots level.

“Jack was a very strong disability activist. He also stood up for battered wives and bullying in the army.

“He won admiration from all parties and was much loved as a public figure.

“The people of Widnes can now come and look at him.”

 

 

Comments (1)

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7:39pm Wed 11 Jun 14

widnesman says...

A well deserved tribute to a man who never forgot his roots.

A lesson that other politicians seem to forget!!
A well deserved tribute to a man who never forgot his roots. A lesson that other politicians seem to forget!! widnesman
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