Cap that! Tears as Dickie Bird statue unveiled in Barnsley

AN EMOTIONAL Dickie Bird thanked the people of Barnsley today as he unveiled a life-size statue of himself in his beloved hometown.

The former Test umpire and Yorkshire cricketing hero said it was "one of the best moments of my life" as more than 200 people came out to honour one of the town's favourite sons.

The life-size bronze statue, created by acclaimed Barnsley sculptor Graham Ibbeson, was unveiled next to St Mary's Garden, close to where Mr Bird lived as a child.

Speaking at the ceremony, the much-loved cricket icon said: "I have a few tears in my eyes, but I'm so grateful to be here and I'm so grateful to Barnsley."

He praised the sculptor for doing a "marvellous job" and said he was delighted with the statue.

Mr Ibbeson said afterwards: "Like Dickie himself, it has humour and affection and to me it's a tribute to a Barnsley icon, a Yorkshire icon and a cricketing icon."

Mr Bird played cricket for Yorkshire before becoming an umpire, notching up 66 Test matches, at the time a world record.

He received an MBE in 1986 and has received honorary doctorates from Leeds and Sheffield Hallam universities, as well as being awarded the Freedom of Barnsley.

Among the guests at yesterday's ceremony were TV presenters Harry Gration and Christa Ackroyd, writer Ian Clayton and pioneering plastic surgeon Dr Fiona Wood.