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Billy Connolly backing Glasgow Mandela statue plan

Proposal would see memorial to anti-apartheid campaigner raised on street bearing his name.

Nelson Mandela: Visited Glasgow in 1993.
Nelson Mandela: Visited Glasgow in 1993. Glasgow Caledonian University Archives: Records of the Anti-Apartheid Movement Scottish Committee

Sir Billy Connolly has backed a drive to raise money for a statue in memory of Nelson Mandela in Glasgow.

The Big Yin joins three other prominent Glaswegians who have signed up as patrons of the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation (NMSMF).

The other backers are Sir Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish and Lord MacFarlane of Bearsden.

Sir Billy said: "I am honoured and delighted to join the impressive line-up of worthy Glaswegians as a patron of the campaign to build a statue to Nelson Mandela in Glasgow.

"I met Mr Mandela in Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize. He left an impression on me that I will never forget."

The charity plans to mark the centenary of the former South African President's birth by raising £250,000 to commission a memorial in Glasgow.

A statue already exists in Parliament Square, London, with planning permission in place for the new memorial at Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow.

Imprisoned for 27 years for his resistance to apartheid, the South African leader was made a Freeman of the City of Glasgow in 1981 while still in jail.

He was finally released from jail on February 11, 1990, with this week marking the 28th anniversary of that historic moment.

In 1993 he collected his Glasgow honour in person and addressed a crowd of 15,000 in the city's George Square.

The charity was launched on October 9 last year to coincide with the 24th anniversary of the visit.

Brian Filling, NMSMF chair, said: "I'm delighted to welcome Sir Billy Connolly, a Freeman of the City of Glasgow, as the latest patron of the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation.

"Our plan to erect a memorial for Nelson Mandela in Nelson Mandela Place will complete a piece of Glasgow's history of support for progressive and noble causes and serve as a permanent reminder of South Africa and Glasgow's important and shared history."

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