In what was a genuinely touching moment earlier on today, one of Manchester’s most iconic cultural landmarks came to life.
Well, not quite – but it was recreated in a way that made for a truly sombre sight.
Stopping commuters in their tracks and drawing in crowds of on-lookers in their dozens just after 10:30am this morning, a military charity took the unique and memorable approach of marking the anniversary of a statue it installed in Manchester city centre five years ago with a special “living statue” display.
We’re of course talking about the bronze sculpture outside the front of the station that depicts seven life-sized soldier figures wearing blindfolds and guiding one another – which has been well-received by many for its “moving” subject matter since it was first erected back in October 2018, and has been described as “striking” for its interaction with passers-by at eye level.
The now-iconic statue was unveiled half a decade ago by Blind Veterans UK – a national charity supporting the thousands of vision-impaired ex-Service men and women nationwide – to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War, but also serves as a monument to all the veterans the organisation has supported since then too.
The industrialised nature of WWI – which lasted from 1914 to 1918, and saw the deaths of an estimated 886,000 British and Commonwealth military personnel, as well as countless more injured – made for unfathomable human suffering.
Around 30,000 of the wounded were discharged with damaged or defective eyesight, and of these, 3,000 were left permanently blinded.
Blind Veterans UK was then founded in 1915 in a bid to support those 30,000.
The sculpture’s name, Victory Over Blindness, was a phrase used by the charity’s founder, Sir Arthur Pearson, and it’s a phrase the organisation says continues to guide its principles to this day.
Conceived and designed by artist and sculptor Johanna Domke-Guyot, as mentioned, the sculpture shows seven blinded soldiers leading one another with their hands on their comrades’ shoulders – and this was exactly how it was recreated today.
After a symphony of trumpets and bagpipes sounded, the ‘living statue’ of actors dressed in WWI uniforms then made their way through the station and on throughout city.
Blind Veterans UK said it not only chose to recreate the sculpture as a ‘living statue’ today to mark the fifth anniversary of its installation, but also to highlight to that, although it currently supports thousands of blind veterans across the country, it knows there are thousands more who still need help to rebuild their lives after sight loss.
The charity hopes the ‘living statue’ display today showed the Greater Manchester public going about their day how important its support can be.
Know someone who served in the Armed Forces and is now struggling with sight loss? You can get in touch with Blind Veterans UK on 0800 389 7979 or via its website here.
Featured Image – The Manc Group
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”