A tribute to Mary Anning in the town where she lived is one step closer to becoming reality after financial boosts.

Mary Anning Rocks, the campaign to have a statue of the famous fossil hunter in Lyme Regis, was awarded £5,000 from the town council from money donated by Fossil Films during the filming of Ammonite in March - which featured Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan - as well as raising £6,000 from an auction.

We spoke to Anya Pearson, chairman of Mary Anning Rocks to find out how it all started, where they are with the project and what’s next.

It was her daughter Evie’s idea after a day on the beach in Lyme Regis in April 2017 when she was 10-years-old.

She had been learning about Mary Anning, as well as suffragettes at school and was told how the statue of Dame Millicent Fawcett, the suffragist leader and campaigner, was Parliament Square’s first monument to a woman.

Anya said: “She asked if we could go and see Mary’s statue - as Mary Anning is now part of the UK curriculum - and I had to explain that she didn’t have one.

“She got really mad and upset about it and I thought, ‘she’s right’, we should all be annoyed by this and more annoyed at the fact Lyme Regis hasn’t done anything about it.

“We genuinely thought there would be a campaign, or at least a group of people in Lyme Regis championing it that we could join, but nothing. Shocking really.

“She’s [Mary Anning] has got this global attraction, which again is mind boggling why Lyme Regis hadn’t put a statue up. It’s a massive draw for tourism.”

That was when Evie and her mum started the campaign.

Anya added: “Evie started writing to Sir David Attenborough and he started writing back and they became little pen pals. Without even asking him he told her to add him to her list of followers and that he would love to be a patron.

“Then Evie wrote an email to Professor Alice Roberts [an English biological anthropologist, biologist, TV presenter and author] and she came onboard. She has been so helpful and has been involved in a short film about Mary Anning Rocks, which will launch with our Crowfunder this spring on Mary’s birthday.

Since then the campaign has caught the attention of people around the world, has raised tens of thousands of pounds and has raised awareness of Mary Anning.

Anya said: “The idea is that our Crowdfunder will launch on May 21 this year, which is Mary Anning’s 221st birthday. We have also been told that it will be around early summer that the film will launch as well.

“As it stands, we have got about £30,000 already and that’s off the back of people pledging and donating, and we have made a lot of money from our merchandise. We do a lot of t-shirts, which have just been amazing.

“We have what we call our ‘Anning Army’ and we get them to send in photos of themselves wearing the t-shirts - they come from all over the world.

“The auction [held in December] raised £6,000 for us, which was amazing, and that was off the back of £2,000 worth of gifts.

“People were putting in these amazing bids and some of the prizes went above and beyond what we thought they would go for.

“We put Evie’s first ammonite she found on the beach in a box frame and it went for something like £350.”

The statue is anticipated to cost between £75,000 and £160,000.

Anya added: “We are looking at artists from a sliding scale of about £75,000 to £160,000 and we don’t really know until we finish the Crowdfunder where we will land with that.

“It is about a statue for Mary, but most importantly a learning legacy ff the back of that. So when the statue is raised, it will be an interactive statue and we are looking to work with a company to do an app, there will be free downloadable educational material. It won’t just be about a physical, beautiful monument to her, it will be educational as well.”

The group is now working on becoming a registered charity, as well as focusing on the launch of their Crowdfunder in May, but there are some other events to look out for before then.

Anya said: “We will be at the Family Science Day in Dorchester in and then the launch of the Crowdfunder - that will be the major focus and push.

“In February we have got an amazing mini-documentary coming out with BBC Inside Out, who have done a documentary on Mary Anning and the campaign.”

To find out more, to pledge to the campaign or to join the ‘Anning Army’ and buy a t-shirt, visit maryanningrocks.co.uk