TWO of the descendants of Charles Dickens are to walk 75 miles to raise cash for a statue of the writer to go in Guildhall Square.
Brothers Ian and Gerald Dickens, great-great-grandsons of the Portsmouth-born writer, are bidding to raise a further £50,000 which is needed for the statue – the first of Dickens in the UK.
The pair will walk from London to Portsmouth wearing top hats, as inspired by the tale of Nicholas Nickleby who walked the same route with his companion Smike, in Dickens novel of that name.
The statue is being planned to mark the bicentenary of the famous author.
Ian said: ‘We wanted to do something that could work as a catalyst to grow awareness.
‘It occurred to me that Nicholas Nickleby did the walk. It’s the only novel that features Portsmouth. It seemed to make complete sense.’
In the novel, Nicholas completed the walk in two and a half days.
But Ian and Gerald say they will complete it in five days, stopping off at hotels and pubs on the way.
They will set off from the capital on Sunday, August 5. ‘We’re looking forward to it,’ Ian added.
‘If it’s something that gets people behind it, it will raise the profile of the charity and the statue. And hopefully it encourages people to follow us and join in.’
As part of the walk, Gerald, who professionally performs shows based on the novels of Charles Dickens, will perform each night to thank people for putting them up and to try to raise more money.
One of the places they will stay at will be the Robin Hood Inn, in Rowlands Castle, on August 8.
‘It’s nice for the hotel or the pub because they can bring in custom. Then we can pass the hat around at the end,’ Ian added.
So far, just under £70,000 of the £120,000 needed has been raised. And Ian said putting a statue in Portsmouth is extremely important.
There are two other statues in the world, one in Sydney, Australia, and another in Philadelphia in the US.
‘He’s one of the world’s greatest writers,’ Ian said.
‘There are no statues of him in the UK. It seems right and proper that Portsmouth should be the first place because it’s where he was born. I hope it’s a reminder to generations of who he was and what he achieved.’
All money raised from the walk will be divided between The Charles Dickens Statue Fund and The National Literacy Trust.
To make a donation visit justgiving.com/Dickenswalk.