Locke sculpture campaigner dies

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The man behind Derry’s city centre tribute to world famous tenor Josef Locke was laid to rest yesterday.

Michael ‘Mixie’ Sheerin, of Troy Park, Culmore, died peacefully at his home on Thursday.

For many years the late Mr Sheerin campaigned for a sculpture to be designed, created and erected in tribute to Josef Locke in the singer’s hometown of Derry.

Finally in 2005, Michael - a life long fan of Locke - was proud to unveil a sculpture to the tenor in front of Derry’s City Hotel.

The Derry singer’s wife Carmel Locke presented Michael with a piece of engraved crystal, praising him for his “tireless work” and for doing “so much” to ensure her talented husband was honoured in his home town.

Michael’s labour of love captured the imagination of the entire city and many, including Carmel and her daughter Yvette, turned out to see Derry songwriter and musician Phil Coulter and Nobel Laureate John Hume unveil the 6’3” work of art designed by artist Terry Quigley in the grounds of the City Hotel.

Michael had endeavoured to bring everyone together through his great devotion to the project.

After many years of lobbying Michael secured the backing of Derry City Council and in 2004 organised a special variety concert to raise funds to commemorate the internationally acclaimed Derry singer in the sculpture.

Michael was in no doubt that some form of tribute to the deceased tenor was required.

“I think it is time that we, as a city, afforded some sort of recognition to the great talent that we have produced. What better way to begin this process than by honouring a man who, no matter what the circumstances, always took the opportunity to talk favourably about his home town.”

Paying tribute to Mr. Sheerin yesterday, local MLA Pat Ramsey said: “Mixie has served this city so well for many years through the City Of Drama Club and in the choir of the Christian Brothers, and championed many a cause his most successful was raising the finance to have erected at the front of the City Hotel a Bronze tribute to the life of Joseph Locke, and never short of an opinion.

“He was a decent man, who was always looking at the best of others and how they could be honoured.”

Michael was laid to rest in the City Cemetery yesterday following Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn.

He is survived by his wife Colette, son Shay and grandchildren Michael and Claire.