Campaign boosted by £20,000 from the City Change Fund taking them more than two thirds of the way to their target in just one week of fundraising.
Last week, campaigners launched the fundraiser to build a statue outside Home Park to celebrate Jack Leslie who was picked to play for England back in 1925, but then denied his England cap when the selection committee realised he was black.
Co-founder, Matt Tiller said, “We’ve been staggered by the response as people in Plymouth and beyond react to the Jack Leslie story. More than 1200 people have already pledged donations big and small and we appreciate every single one, whatever the amount. We’ve been heartened by some of the incredible messages of support and memories of Jack The news that Plymouth City Council is pledging £20,000 too is a huge leap forward for our campaign which has captured the imagination not just locally, but nationally and globally too.“
Plymouth City Council’s Change Fund supports local projects through its partnership with Crowdfunder. Projects become eligible once a third of the target is reached and the money is only released if that target is met. The fund has pledged over £250,000 towards more than 60 projects, including the Nancy Astor statue.
Councillor Chris Penberthy, Plymouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Co-operative Development, said “I am really pleased that the Jack Leslie Campaign is working to remind the city and country of Jack Leslie’s successful professional career, and the discrimination he faced. I congratulate them on doing so well with their crowdfund appeal and am pleased to announce that as a result of this our City Change Fund has been able to match their existing fundraising with a £20,000 donation. I look forward to seeing them smash their target and being able to visit the statue of Jack Leslie once it is in place.“
The statue campaign has attracted cross-party support, from both Labour and Conservative groups on the Council, along with Independent Cllr Chaz Singh.
Since the launch last week, several high proﬁle football players and ex-players have expressed their support from the likes of Viv Anderson, England’s ﬁrst black senior team player, Gary Lineker and Carlton Cole to Plymouth Argyle Manager Ryan Lowe. Celebrities indelibly linked to the city, Dawn French and Sharron Davies, have also backed the statue appeal. The FA, too, has come on board as a sponsor pledging funds.
The Crowdfunding target is to raise at least £100,000 to build a statue of Jack Leslie outside Home Park. It will be a publicly accessible monument to acknowledge Jack’s achievements, tell the story of his success at Argyle and the England cap that never was. Plymouth Argyle, which named its new boardroom after Leslie last year, backs the plan.
Plymouth Argyle CEO, Andrew Parkinson, said “We are delighted that, through the Jack Leslie Campaign, people across the world are becoming more aware of the story of one of the club’s all-time legends.
“We are extremely pleased to hear of Plymouth City Council’s funding support for the statue. In coming together to honour Jack, the city and people of Plymouth have evidenced their values and compassion, and we should be proud of that.”
The Crowdfunder runs for another five weeks.
Co-founder Greg Foxsmith said, “We have achieved a huge amount in such a short time, but that is all down to Jack Leslie’s story, and the positive way that the people of Plymouth and beyond have responded . We need everyone to keep telling that story and asking people and local companies and businesses to donate”
Shore Financial are one of the Plymouth companies that has donated to the fund. Jon Treharne said “we recognise that civic pride in the City’s achievements and great people past and present reﬂects well on us all and is part of what makes Plymouth great”
More on Jack Leslie:
Jack Leslie, a prolific goalscorer, was born in London and played for Plymouth Argyle from 1921-1934, scoring 137 goals in 401 appearances. Jack was the only professional black footballer playing in England for much of his career and was a popular figure at Argyle where he helped the team win a championship and promotion, toured South America and became club captain, probably the first black player to do so in the professional game. In his later years he worked in the “boot room” at West Ham, shining the leathers of World Cup winners.