GIRLS at Portsmouth High School had a special visit from Charles Dickens’ great, great grandson as he collected a cheque for money raised to create a statue in his ancestor’s honour.
Ian Dickens visited the school yesterday and was handed £250 which the girls had raised by making Charles Dickens mugs and quills to celebrate the author’s bicentenary.
He spoke to the pupils in an assembly and talked about the Portsmouth-born author and the statue which is being built and will be placed in Guildhall Square.
Speaking at the assembly, Ian said: ‘It’s very good of you to ask me to be here today. I would like to say a huge congratulations to everybody who played their part in making these mugs.
‘I have one myself and I use it every day. It is hugely appreciated. I’m the fourth generation of Dickens to live in Portsmouth.
‘There’s a lovely connection with Portsmouth.’
Speaking to The News, Mr Dickens added: ‘This is the first statue for Dickens anywhere in the UK. It has got to be the right sense of grandeur. It’s going to be here forever.
‘It’s absolutely right that we recognise him.’
Headteacher Jane Prescott said: ‘We thought it was very important for Portsmouth.
‘We have been around for 130 years and we felt it was something that was important to the city and important to the school.’
She added: ‘The girls loved doing it, they loved making the mugs.’
And Mrs Prescott added that it was an honour to welcome Mr Dickens into the school.
‘It’s an enormous privilege to have Ian come in and speak to the girls,’ she said.
‘They found it quite exciting to see a relative of Charles Dickens.
‘Dickens is an author that they have studied and continue to study.
‘Particularly with his connections to Portsmouth, it makes it more real for them.
‘They were quite in awe of him.
‘And I do think Ian bears a resemblance to his great-great grandfather.’
All the money raised goes to the Charles Dickens Statue Fund. So far £66,000 of the £120,000 needed has been raised.