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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 July 2006, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Tommy Cooper statue's head start
Tommy Cooper
Big man, big laughs: Tommy Cooper cut an unmistakeable figure
The first stage of a statue of comedian Tommy Cooper has been unveiled in the comic's south Wales birthplace.

The Caerphilly-based Tommy Cooper Society has raised 15,000 of 40,000 needed for a permanent tribute in the town.

Saturday saw the unveiling of a clay sculpture of Cooper's head which the society hopes will be cast in bronze as part of a full statue.

The ceremony took place during Caerphilly's Big Cheese festival.

Cooper was born in Caerphilly in March 1921 in Llwyn Onn Street and spent his early years in the town.

We want people to look at this statue and say: 'That's Caerphilly'
Tudor Jones, Tommy Cooper Society

He was famed for his red fez, catchphrase "just like that," mock-incompetence as a magician, manic laugh and corny jokes.

He was one of Britain's most popular entertainers for years until dying in April 1984 after collapsing on stage in London.

The Tommy Cooper Society, which was formed in 2003, has campaigned to build a statue of the comic in a town probably still better known for its cheese and castle.

It has identified a site in front of Caerphilly Castle for the 13ft-tall statue which will depict a fez-clad Cooper in comic pose.

Speaking before the unveiling ceremony, Tommy Cooper Society secretary Tudor Jones said the event would help raise the statue campaign's profile.

Caerphilly Castle
A site for the statue has been identified near Caerphilly Castle

He said: "We need to raise 40,000, but the reason we are having the ceremony is to say we have got this far and to encourage people to give us the money for the arms, legs and everything else.

"The whole point of it is that we want to establish the fact that Tommy Cooper was born in Caerphilly.

"It's a very original design. When people see the Little Mermaid statue, they think of Copenhagen.

"We want people to look at this statue and say: 'That's Caerphilly'."

The statue's sculptor, James Done - who also designed a statue of boxer Johnny Owen in Merthyr Tydfil - was at the unveiling of the head in the society's tent at Caerphilly's three-day Big Cheese festival.

Mr Jones added: "The head itself 3ft high, but the finished statue will be 9ft tall on a 4ft plinth and encased in bronze."

Since forming three years ago, the Tommy Cooper Society has held a series of fund-raising events including a golf tournament and fun run.

It has also set up a "Tommy Cooper walk" near the town's castle where Cooper fans can have an engraved paving stone dedicated.




SEE ALSO
Hundreds join Cooper fun run
25 Apr 04 |  South East Wales
Tommy Cooper statue campaign
11 Jun 03 |  South East Wales
Comic Cooper footage unearthed
16 Apr 01 |  Entertainment

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