He was presented with a Spirit of Liverpool Liver Bird by the Lord Mayor, Coun Anthony Conception, to recognise his long term affection for the people of the city which he marked by creating the Eleanor Rigby statue in the city centre
Tommy, 79, was staring in The Glenn Miller Story at the Liverpool Empire from and the presentation was made on stage at the theatre.
He decided to create the Eleanor Rigby statue as a tribute to the Beatles and the people of the city. He asked for a fee of just three old pence which is ‘Half a Sixpence’, the title of his hit show. The costs of the work, £4,000, which is almost £14,000 in today’s money, were covered by the Liverpool Echo.
Tommy’s links with the city go back to the days when he sailed from the Mersey as a cabin boy and he describes coming back to Liverpool as ‘like having a big cuddle’.
In 2003 Arthur Johnson, former Echo journalist, helped arrange a 21st birthday party for Eleanor Rigby, named after the Beatles song. Tommy was appearing at the Empire at the time and met some of his old shipmates at the statue’s birthday party. The Spirit of Liverpool statue being presented to him is created by local sculptor Rick Myers who, along with Arthur Johnson, is a partner in Liver Birds Inc.
The statues have sold to more than 40 countries and been presented to many celebrities including the Queen. Captains of cruise liners are presented with a bird when they arrive in the Mersey. An 8ft version of the bird is now just outside Central Station.
The Lord Mayor said: “A previous Lord Mayor, Councillor Ron Gould, described Tommy as an adopted Scouser a few years ago and we felt it was time to formalise the title. He has given the city an iconic statue and it seems only fitting that we should give him one back.”