Campaigner to raise £70k honouring Paul O’Grady with bronze Lily Savage statue: ‘He paved the way for inclusivity and acceptance’

Paul O'Grady Iconic Moments

A campaigner is aiming to raise £70,000 to create a statue of the late TV icon, Paul O’Grady, as his drag alter ego Lily Savage in his hometown of Birkenhead.

The fundraiser was launched by illustrator Kieran Gabriel, a week after Paul O’Grady’s death on 29 March, aged 67.

It proposes a bronze statue that will serve as a “permanent memorial” to the star who “never seemed to forget where he came from,” Gabriel told PinkNews. 

Gabriel’s GoFundMe page has so far raised more than £2,000 from over 200 contributors, and follows his launch of a petition addressed to the Wirral Council in a bid to get permission for the statue.

So far, more than 200,000 people have signed the petition, meaning that it is well on its way to meet the goal of 300,000 signatures.

Gabriel says he was “overwhelmed” by the success of the petition, which encouraged him to start a fundraiser for the statue. 

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He is already in talks with a sculptor responsible for many iconic statues in Liverpool, telling PinkNews: “We’d love it to be a bronze statue, hopefully of Paul as Lily Savage – which would definitely make such a unique piece.” 

For Gabriel, it is important that the statue is installed in O’Grady’s hometown, as the TV star’s love of home “always remained in his heart”.

Paul O'grady to be honoured by a guard of dogs at funeral.
Paul O’Grady’s funeral took place on Thursday 20 April. (ITV)

“He never seemed to forget where he came from, and as someone born and raised there, there’s definitely a strong sense of local pride for him. 

“He’s certainly always represented Birkenhead throughout his life, so it only feels right that we have a permanent memorial to him.” 

Growing up in the 90s, Gabriel says O’Grady’s drag alter ego Lily Savage was “especially groundbreaking and trailblazing” and “certainly paved the way for future inclusivity and acceptance”. 

“Before all that, Paul/Lily was at the forefront in the 80s, facing down police raids on gay bars with that acid tongue. 

“That sense of activism is something Paul seemed to never forget, even when he retired Lily and hosted shows as himself – constantly speaking out and representing those confronted with prejudice.” 

Gabriel is hopeful that he will reach the £70,000 fundraising goal within the coming months so the O’Grady’ statue can be made a reality. 

Paul O'Grady and Lily Savage.
Paul O’Grady, best known for his drag alter ego Lily Savage, has been laid to rest. (Getty)

Paul O’Grady’s funeral took place on Thursday (20 April) and featured a special guard of honour, formed by dogs from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. The charity, beloved by O’Grady, has received more than £270,000 in donations since his death.

In his memory, ITV released a poignant documentary – For The Love of Paul O’Grady – which touched on his groundbreaking work as drag queen Lily Savage, and included a moving tribute from his ex-partner Brendan Murphy.

The final series of Paul O’Grady’s For the Love of Dogs airs posthumously on ITV on Thursdays.

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