My name is Ronnie Steele, Chair of the Kes Group. I’m a former apprentice professional footballer, ex primary school teacher, and I’m currently working as a semi professional poet and club singer. Barry Hines was my PE teacher at school and I absolutely worshipped him, mainly because of the respect he gave me and all the other pupils. At Barry’s funeral I was allowed to read a eulogy which I composed and dedicated to him. This was the final verse: “Some went to school to obey the law Some went to avoid the mines Some went for the love of learning I went for Barry Hines” I regard this task of helping to build a statue in Barry’s honour, as one of the most important challenges of my life.
I’m an artist and sculptor from Barnsley, South Yorkshire. I’ve created sculptures of Eric Morecambe – which was unveiled by the Queen in 1999, Benny Hill, Dickie Bird, Laurel and Hardy and the statue for Barry will be my ‘ swan song’ piece. First and foremost the reason that I wanted to design a fitting memorial to the great Barry Hines, is mainly because his writing reflected the community he was part of, and being Barnsley born and bred I’m also part of that same community. I never met Barry, however, being brought up on a local council house estate, and going to the nearby Secondary Modern School, I could identify with Billy Casper. From an artistic point of view, I’ve sculpted many kids trying to fly (cardboard wings and all), and with Barry’s symbolism of the freedom of the Kestrel, compared with the deprived childhood of Billy, it triggered a realisation that the lads I sculpt attempting to take to the air, are indeed self portraits of me unsuccessfully trying to escape the badlands of Barnsley as a child.
My name is Milly Johnson and I’m a contemporary fiction novelist of 15 books, after dinner speaker, joke writer and newspaper columnist. I’m onboard with this project because Barry inspired me to write. When I was being told that ‘my accent was better suited to the textile industry’ people like Barry kept my hope alive that if being a provincial writer was good enough for him, it just might be good enough for me too.
My name is Janet Richardson and I am a retired secondary school English teacher.
I taught at Hoyland Kirk Balk for 15 years where Barry Hines had previously worked. Barry was born in Hoyland Common and lived locally. I paid tribute to him by naming the Junior Library in his honour. ‘Kes’ was on the exam syllabus for many years and the students loved it as they felt it was ‘their’ book.
The film was shot locally and featured many people and places they knew. I think it’s important that we honour Barry Hines by dedicating a statue of Billy Casper, holding his kestrel, to someone who was proud of his roots and championed the cause of Comprehensive Education throughout his life.
My name is Jan Brears and I am an ex-cashier and office worker.
I love the film ‘Kes’ and it is my son’s favourite film. David Bradley, the actor who played Billy Capser, was my next door neighbour at the time the film ‘Kes’ was made and I love the work of Barnsley sculptor Graham Ibbeson.
Barry’s works , including ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’, have stood the test of time and still resonate on many levels with many people. Ronnie’s idea for Barry’s memorial sculpture brought these things together and made me want to be involved in the project.
I’ve been working with film in the media industry for five years now. Mostly community filming. For a while I’ve been looking to spread my wings into more creative work. So when Ronnie Steele invited me to join the Barry Hines Memorial Statue Project and create short films. I couldn’t believe my luck.
I remember exactly where I was and what I was thinking when I first saw Kes. It mirrored so much of my life at the time. I watched Threads too. Which was hard hitting, I’ve yet to watch The Price of Coal.
To have the opportunity to be part of this team to honour Barry for the film that helped me and the work he did in showing what life in the North is really like to the rest of the country and indeed the world. Well, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be filming wise.