A CAMPAIGN to immortalise one of Lyme Regis' most famous residents has smashed its fundraising target.

In spite of the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, the campaign to build a statue of Lyme Regis fossil hunter Mary Anning has reached its target of £100,000. This amount is enough to cover the projected cost of erecting the statue of the groundbreaking palaeontologist.

The project began when local schoolgirl, Evie Swire, was shocked that there was not already a statue of Anning to acknowledge her achievements. Evie, along with her mother, Anya Pearson, started the 'Mary Anning Rocks' campaign shorty after.

Ms Pearson said: "Evie and I are both so thrilled that we have smashed the target. We were holding our breath as we watch the total tick closer and closer to the final amount.

"When I refreshed my laptop and it finally showed that we had hit the £100,000 mark we leapt from our seats and screamed, then burst into happy tears."

Sculptor Denise Dutton has been commissioned to create the statue and it is hoped that the statue will be unveiled in spring 2022.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: The design for the statue of Mary Anning Picture: Mary Anning RocksThe design for the statue of Mary Anning Picture: Mary Anning Rocks

The group has pencilled in 21 May 2022, which would be Annings' 223rd birthday, as a potential unveiling date.

Mary Anning Rocks has now revealed a stretch target of £150,000 which will be put towards a new project called 'the Mary Anning Rocks Learning Legacy'. This project is designed to further educate Lyme Regis residents on the life and legacy of Anning.

This would include the development of a 'Mary's Map' app, which would allow residents to follow in the fossil hunter's footsteps, discovering where she lived and worked within the town, bluetooth technology or scannable QR codes which would allow members of the public to interact directly with the statue to learn more about Anning's life and work and fun fact packs to download from the Mary Anning Rocks website.

The additional donations would also help to fund educational engagement within schools.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: The Mary Anning Rocks group released this graphic of the campaign hitting its targetThe Mary Anning Rocks group released this graphic of the campaign hitting its target

Ms Pearson said: "It’s hugely important that any contemporary memorialisation be contextualised for a modern audience. Not doing so is precisely why some statues are now being toppled. Having the chance to launch the Mary Anning Rocks Learning Legacy will come a long way in helping us to do exactly that.

"We hope that helping children to engage with Mary's story will enable our next generation of Earth scientists to get out on the beaches and find fossils just like Mary did when she was a child over 200 years ago."

To make a donation to the project, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/maryanningrocks