The 1985 Eric Morecambe Memorial Appeal
Feature from 1985
Eric was an avid birdwatcher, and of his many hobbies, this came second only to fishing as his favourite.
Eric watching birds
In the autumn of 1985, the RSPB set up the Eric Morecambe Memorial fund to raise money to purchase a new bird reserve; Old Hall Marshes in Essex.
The fund raising began with an article in the 1985 spring edition of Birds, the official RSPB magazine, and a 4 page leaflet giving details of the site via a letter from Joan.
The site is a 1,134 acre piece of partly drained marshland on the Blackwater Estuary which, after being purchase the year before for £750,000, was in need of improvement to fully realise its potential as a bird reserve.
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The RSPB approached Joan, who was delighted to be able to help, and the fund raising began.
There were many events spanning the appeals 3 year run, including the RSPB/Zeiss National Birdwatch, a balloon release and various galas and garden parties and the funds were growing.
Birds magazine, in the Autumn 1985 edition, kept readers up to date with events and news of a fund raising luncheon at Fortnum & Mason. Amongst the guests were Joanna Lumley and Joan.
More news in 1986 with the fund raising still moving forward, and a Royal Gala Concert was held on 1st November in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra.
Other events included a sponsored balloon race starting at Morecambe Bay that managed to raise £2000. More balloon antics at a garden party in September improved that to raise £5000.
The final target of £1.5m was reached in the spring of 1988, and stars of screen and theatre celebrated with a gala concert in November.
© ericandern.co.uk and RSPB 2007 / 1985