Statue set to honour ‘heroine of Craigmillar’

Helen Crummy. Picture: TSPL
Helen Crummy. Picture: TSPL
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A MUM from Craigmillar who refused to take no for an answer is set to follow in the footsteps of Queen Victoria by becoming only the second woman to be celebrated with a statue in Edinburgh.

Craigmillar Festival founder Dr Helen Crummy MBE was dubbed the “heroine of Craigmillar” after becoming the driving force behind the internationally recognised community arts event.

The statue of Helen Crummy giving a violin bow to her son. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

The statue of Helen Crummy giving a violin bow to her son. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

She originally set up the Peffermill Mothers’ Group when her son, Philip, showed an early interest in music but was denied violin lessons by his school headmaster.

When faced with having to pay for lessons, she refused to take no for an answer and launched a personal crusade to create her own arts festival.

Now the community will commemorate her to celebrate the festival’s 50th anniversary, when the statue is unveiled in front of the East Neighbourhood Centre on Friday afternoon.

Edinburgh arts impresario Professor Richard Demarco and Helen’s grandson, Prentice Crummy, will unveil the statue, which was created by city sculptor Tim Chalk and will depict the iconic moment when she gave her son a violin bow.

The original violin, having been specially reconditioned, will also be played at the unveiling.

Former colleague Midge Lamb, 69, said Dr Crummy was an inspirational woman.

“Helen would never take no for an answer – I started as a typist for three months on a temporary contract and I was still there 30 years later.

“She encouraged people and as a result it was a lot of women that were at the forefront of the organisation.”

She added: “She was probably renowned throughout the world for the type of work she did – she had visitors from Russia, Israel, Denmark and even Australia coming to get advice.”

Dr Crummy was the festival’s organising secretary until 1985 and was even invited to the European Parliament to speak about its success as an inspiration to others.

She was awarded an MBE in 1972 and an honorary doctorate by Heriot-Watt University in 1993 before her death in 2011 aged 91.

SNP councillor Mike Bridgman, who plans to attend Friday’s unveiling, also paid tribute to Dr Crummy.

“She was an integral part of the community and she did a hell of a lot for the community,” he said.

“She brought people together so there was a good community spirit – she was a fine lady.

“She was a great ambassador in the area and it’s befitting that she has a memorial.”

The other city statues of women are Queen Victoria at the Foot of Leith Walk and an unnamed South African woman in Festival Square.