The sculpture, of lead schoolboy character Billy, played by Dai, and his beloved bird, Kes, celebrates the late Barnsley author and his most famous work, his 1968 book A Kestrel For A Knave, which was made into the hit movie and filmed in the town.
The bronze sculpture, now on permanent display outside the Alhambra shopping centre in Cheapside. is the work by famed artist Graham Ibbeson, who offered his services gratis.
His other works include a statue of comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, film star Cary Grant, former Test cricket umpire legend Dickie Bird, which is also in Barnsley. He is currently working on a statue of Ken Dodd and is also producing the town’s Covid-19 Memorial which is will also be unveiled soon in the town centre.
The Barry Hines Memorial was the brainchild of Ronnie Steele, an ex-pupil of Barry, who set up a committee to orchestrate the project in the 50th anniversary year of the release of the book.
The project has been funded by worldwide donations given out of love and respect for the author who died from Alzheimer’s in 2016. Other members of the committee are sales organiser Janet Richardson, treasurer Jan Brears, Carl Yeates, Kris Branigan and novelist Milly Johnson.
After going on temporary display at Experience Barnsley Museum, inside the town hall, then at the town’s new library in The Glass Works Square, the statue has now been welcomed to its new home and was greeted by a huge crowd of film fans, after a brass band march of dignitaries and special guests, following speeches at the nearby Parkway Cinema in Eldon Street.
Actor Dai Bradley, who still lives in the town, was thrilled by the huge turn out. He said: “Without Barry Hines, none of us would be here right now.
"He was an inspired writer. He wrote some fabulous books. I was very fortunate to be in on the scene for his second book, of which Ken Loach and Tony Garnett discovered and decided to make a film.
"All our lives changed because of this man called Barry Hines. I think the statue is a great commemoration to him. It's a great Memorial.
"It's a celebration for young people to find inspiration from him to and it's also something for the town to be proud of. It's amazing.
"And I I'm rather glad that I'm not named on the on the actual stone plinth, and that my contribution to Barry, and his wonderful life is an image of me.”
Director Ken Loach’s socially critical directing style and socialist ideals highlight poverty, homelessness and labour rights, including other work Cathy Come Home, The Navigators, The Price Of Coal and most recently 2016’s I, Daniel Blake, which received the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, making him one of only nine filmmakers to win the award twice.
But it’s his 1969 British classic film Kes that first earned him the reputation as one of the world’s film-making greats.
He said of the author: “Barry was a great friend, but he was also a great writer. And it's so important that we remember him and his work, and the stories he told about this town and the area; the values he represented, a community and human resilience and strength.
"It's the right image to have I think. With the boy and the kestrel, the kestrel flys free and the boy stays routed. It’s the way into the ideas of the film.”
Sculptor Graham, hopes the statue will help to inspire the next generation.
He said: ”My dreams have come true in that what I wanted was the statue to be display outside amongst the community. It is my community, David Bradley’s community, Billy Casper’s and certainly Barry Hines’.”
Author Milly Johnson, a Barry Hines Memorial Statue Project committee member, who says Barry Hines’ work inspired her to write, added: “Barry put Barnsley on the map. It was a hard portrait that he painted of Barnsley. But, you know, it was lovely for the world to see that as well as spewing out coal that Barnsley could produce such a literary genius.”