'Community project' planned instead
michael baggs
11:42 14th January 2013

George Harrison's widow has put a halt to plans to build a bronze statue to commemorate the late Beatle, choosing to support a 'community project' instead.

The campaign was started by James Lambert, who wanted to build a statue of George in Henley-on-Thames, which was George's longtime home. 2,000 residents signed the petition, which amounts to almost 20% of the population, and Lambert was hoping for a permanent tribute to the Beatle.

However, Olivia Harrison has spoken out, saying she does not want a statue of George in Henley. Instead, she has said that she would rather have a music festival or community project in his honour. 

Olivia said, "After many years of ­thoughtful consideration, and with great appreciation of the sentiment towards George, we have decided that a more appropriate way of honouring his memory in Henley would be to support a community project. We will announce the details in the summer."

James Lambert told the BBC, "Gauging the pulse in terms of Henley residents I think there was a lot of support.  This petition wasn't tapping into the Beatles fanfare worldwide, it was much more to recognise George's contribution to Henley and the affection Henley had for him.

"It is slightly disappointing but you have to respect Olivia's wishes, as she still has a house in Henley, Friar Park.  And I think the danger was it wouldn't just become a Henley acknowledgement of George's work but would encourage more people to visit Henley."


Olivia Harrison, with Paul McCartney, Tom Hanks and Dhani Harrison

He finished by saying, "I think what she's suggesting in terms of a community project would be great and it'll be very exciting to see exactly how this transpires."

George Harrison moved to the town in the 1970s, when he bought a stately home which was due for demolition. During his time in Henley, he tried to save the local cinema and, according to James Lambert, once "rescued the local garden centre by buying all the plants."

Photos: unseen Beatles Magical Mystery Tour shots