Meet the Team

Evie Swire

Hello, my name is Evie, and I was ten years old when I started this project. I'm now 15. I was born in a village just outside Dorchester, and I am studying for my GCSE. I love my dog called Shelby, who we rescued from Northern Macedonia. We tested her DNA, and she is part Staffy and Chihuahua. One day I will go into outer space or design interiors for houses. My mum said I could do both because one day, even in space, we will need lovely places to live.

Getting Mary her statue has been an amazing adventure and I'm so happy and proud to see her now standing in her forever spot in Lyme Regis.

Anya Pearson

I'm not a scientist. As a fashion professional for the UK High Street, I can safely say I know very little about anything that ends in an 'ology'. However, as well as working for the fashion industry, I'm a mum too. Over the years, I've learned much from my children, like being more candid and standing up for what's right. 

Both my children are kind and clever, but my daughter's indignation and anger are what sparked this campaign.

In 2018 as we were making our way off the beach from one of our many fossil hunts at Lyme Regis, Evie asked me, 'Why isn't there a statute of Mary mummy?' That was our lightning bolt moment, and I started to ask myself the same question - Why isn't there a statue of this incredible woman? We must build positive and empowering female role models for all our children to look up to. Visualise for them that gender and class should never be a barrier to who or what you want to be. And that is just what we have done - Welcome home Mary

Esther Yarnold

I was brought up near the Jurassic Coast in Dorset and was torn between a career in geology or the arts; my love of drawing and photographing my local environment eventually led to me study art and design. 

After a long and varied freelance career in the creative industries I moved into teaching in Higher Education in 2012, and am currently based at University of the West of England, Bristol as Senior Lecturer for the Fashion Communication degree. Working with inspiring and talented young people every day, and to be able to do this at a place of inclusivity, is a privilege that I wish could be considered ‘the norm’. Gender equality and inclusivity are at the forefront of discussions globally right now, and if we can raise awareness and inspire further discussion surrounding these issues, whilst providing an important work of art for Lyme Regis and for Mary Anning’s legacy, then we will have achieved something truly amazing.

As a fan of Mary’s work, I am excited to be able to donate some of my time to work on this project; I will be helping out with design and marketing work, as well as consulting on the learning legacy that the project wishes to establish after the statue is in situ. A huge thank you to Evie Swire for inspiring and instigating such a wonderful project. 

As well as working as a lecturer and academic I also undertake freelance design work, and currently live in a small village in North Dorset with my rescue dog @studiofold

Brandon Lennon

My name is Brandon Lennon and I’m a professional Fossil Collector from Lyme Regis. I started preparing and selling fossils in the early 1980s. This was from our family owned shop called Lennon`s that was originally set up by my parents. I now sell to Museums and other shops around the UK from our lapidary workshop. I have taught in schools in Cambridge, London and the Dorset area as a STEM ambassador and I provide schools with practical lessons and talks on the science of geology. As well as selling fossils I have for the past 30 years been doing fossil walks out along the Jurassic coast. 

I admire Mary Anning greatly, she is, without doubt, one of the greatest British fossil collectors who has ever lived.  Mary was witness to the birth of the science of Palaeontology and, although she had virtually no schooling, she read all the scientific papers of the day and created perfect drawings of many of her finds. In many ways, Mary Anning was responsible for educating the best brains of the country at that time.

I am really happy to be part of Mary Anning Rocks campaign, it gives me a chance to work on a local project to raise a statue to Mary in her home town. I believe the statue has been a long time coming and I look forward to the day when I go out on my fossil walks and can point to her statue and talk to visitors and tourist about her amazing story and contributions she made to my life. Without this remarkable woman’s achievements and insights, we wouldn’t know as much as we do today about what she called ‘deep time’ and how life evolved on our planet.

I am 100% behind Evie and the campaign and will do my utmost to help them raise the funds needed to raise this statue for Mary Anning

I feel very fortunate to live in this beautiful part of the world and I always say, what more could a modern-day fossil collector working in a World Heritage Site want than to live and work in the place where the Earth`s history is being revealed every day? 

Mike Harrison

I am an avid fossil hunter with over 25 years worth of experience specialising in fossilised marine animals from Charmouth and Lyme Regis. I pretty much spend most of my time on the beaches looking for treasures that wash out from the cliffs, exactly like marry did over 200 hundred years ago. One of my most amazing finds was after spending nearly two years searching for the parts of a skull that belonged to a large Ichthyosaur, dubbed the ‘King of The Jurassic Sea’. 

I have been captivated by fossils and fossil hunting from a very young age and that is why I was so impressed with this young woman’s determination to build a statue for Mary. Like me Evie has will to get the job done.

I have grandchildren who also love fossil hunting and Marys story, so I hope that this statue will inspire generations to come and encourage them to follow in Mary’s footsteps.

Darrell Wakelam 

Hi, my name is Darrell and I’m a professional artist based in Lyme Regis. As part of my work as an artist I travel far and wide delivering art workshops for children and young people usually comprising of 3D models, masks, and sculptures. 

I’m originally from the West Midlands but moved to Dorset fifteen years ago to set up my own business. The reason I headed for Lyme Regis was based partly on a childhood love of ‘Natural History’ and a desire to explore my passion through the skills and techniques I had acquired as an artist. 

Like so many other people Mary Anning was a very important inspiration for me as a child. From a very early age I was fascinated by Myths, Legends and Monsters only to be told by my parents, “They aren’t real, they don’t really exist” . . . then at the age of five, I bought myself a ‘Fossil Book’ and this young girl jumped off the pages, dug a monster out of the cliffs with her bare hands, held it aloft and shouted to me “oh yes they are real . . . come and see”. I’ve been following her ever since.”

A statue in honor of Mary is long overdue. A clever, determined, working-class woman who managed to become an expert in her field against the odds in an elitist and male-dominated era.

I hope to help in many ways with the campaign but in particular, I am happy that I will be involved in the community engagement project for the design and look of the statue. A project that will be commissioned by the Mary Anning Rocks Trustees to help bind and connect this work of art into the landscape where she worked and even more importantly to the people of Lyme Regis to whom she belongs. 

I am proud to support 11-year-old Evie Swire in her mission to raise a statue for Mary! Well done Evie, we are all behind you. Darrell is helping us in an advisory capacity as our Community Arts Advisor

Michael Jeffries

Later in life, I became interested in fossils when a friend gave me an ammonite as a birthday gift. Ammonites look so beautiful, and studying the fossil’s body composition closely made me wonder about the functionalities of its design, the kind of environment it must have lived in, and the other “alien” life forms we don’t usually see today. It made me more aware of the cliffs around Lyme Regis, where I lived and how big our world is. It forced me to contemplate deep time: how different the world must have been then and how it has changed so much since.  

All of this aroused in me a sense of wonder about the ancient world, which could only be satisfied by studying fossils, and I lived in the perfect spot to do that. I came late to the committee at a time when there had been some difficulties. I hope my calm and persistence have helped the team. What an honour to now see Mary pride of place and that I had a small part to play in making that happen. Mary now has a permanent home in Lyme Regis and rightly so 

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