Address by Chair of the Made in Derby Selection Panel, Steve Hall, at the Unveiling Ceremony of the Made in Derby Trail
Mr Mayor, distinguished ladies and gentlemen – thank you for joining us this morning. I hope you are ready to be truly inspired.
For we are here today to honour the achievements of some of our city’s greatest sons and daughters.
The ten individuals whose names are forged on eight plaques that will be unveiled in a few moments time come from very different backgrounds and different points in history.
But all are from – or of – our wonderful city and all have achieved things that should make us so very, very proud.
They will be the first to be immortalised in our Made in Derby cast iron and stone mosaic tablets – expertly produced by local crafts people using the finest local materials.
More plaques will follow in further phases of this evolving city walk of fame, giving locals and visitors an opportunity to learn more about what Derby people have accomplished and the mark they have made on the world – and, just maybe, motivating another generation of Derbians to aspire to greatness.
The Made in Derby project has been two years in the making.
Many of us had long felt that Derby had not done enough to publicly celebrate its fantastic heritage and that feeling returned as City of Derby swimmer Adam Peaty raced to gold in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
How could it be that our people were fêted around the world but there was so little obvious in the city where they were born or where they had such strong associations to celebrate their achievements?
A group of us from across the business and political sectors decided the time had come to rectify matters – and, with leadership from the Derby Telegraph and Derby City Council, and funding from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, momentum gathered behind the campaign.
But what would make a fitting tribute?
A walk of fame of some description seemed a good choice and artist Tim Clapcott, a man who had already carried out successful public art commissions in Friar Gate and the Market Place, came up with the Made in Derby concept – with plaques that are quite literally made in Derby honouring individuals who could also be said to be a product of our great city.
And, of course, as Derby is renowned for its innovation, we incorporated a feature which is somewhat ground-breaking.
Tim’s collaborator, Arnold Pollock, produced an Augmented Reality application that will allow smart phone users to bring the plaques to life.
Passers-by who download the Made in Derby App will be able to see a two-dimensional image representing our honourees – and even take a selfie with them – as well as read biographies and access further information.
Derby is the first city in Europe to use this interactive technology in this way.
So we had a desire to make this project succeed, we had an exciting artistic concept, we even had the money to pay for it. But just who should we be honouring?
That’s where readers of the Derby Telegraph newspaper and its website came in. We asked them for their nominations – and these flooded in, forming a long-list of more than 400 suggestions.
Every one of those recommended would have been worthy of inclusion. Each had an inspirational story. And the scale of their collective achievements was awe-inspiring.
But if fell to a small group – myself, the Mayor of Derby, Councillor John Whitby, the Managing Director of Marketing Derby, John Forkin, the chair of St Peter’s Business Improvement District, Helen Wathall, the Executive Director of Derby Museums, Tony Butler, and the Chief Executive of Derby Quad, Adam Buss, to narrow that list down to those who should feature on the first eight plaques.
It was an exceptionally difficult task – but one that was made a little easier by the agreement that further phases of Made in Derby will follow, so more of the 400 nominees will get their turn in the coming months.
We believe we have come up with an exciting set of choices for those initial eight plaques. They certainly make us proud to be from Derby. We hope you will all feel the same.
There are many people who deserve to be thanked for making this happen – D2N2 for the funding, the city council for running the project, the artists and the selection panel.
But those who deserve the greatest thanks are those whose names will be revealed in the next few minutes.
They were made in Derby. And they certainly helped make Derby great.