IT was the poetic phrase that inspired a sculptor to create the beautifully delicate cauldron of petals for the London 2012 Olympics.

Now the public are set to have their say on whether St Helens’ former motto Ex Terra Lucem – (out of the earth – light) should be restored to the coat of arms.

St Helens Council has listened to campaigners and this newspaper and at last night's full council meeting (Wednesday, January 16), there was all party support for plans to revert to the former motto of Ex Terra Lucem.

Supporters of the change argue the phrase – which has its foundations in the town’s coal mining and glass industries – is a stronger symbol of St Helens history as well as representing hope for the future.

As revealed by the St Helens Star last summer, former St Helens schoolboy Frank Cottrell Boyce – the scriptwriter for Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony – cited the Latin motto as one of the event’s major influences.

Cottrell Boyce, a celebrated children’s author, stuck the phrase on an ideas board used by the team behind the spectacle.

It also registered with sculptor Sir Thomas Heatherwick and it is believed to have shaped his thoughts towards creating the cauldron’s 204 copper petals, one for each competing nation.

It led the scriptwriter – who attended St Bartholemews school in Rainhill – to tell the Star that “St Helens’ DNA was woven into the ceremony”.

Darren Lilly, who led a social media campaign for the change – is delighted the council has listened. The 43-year-old told the Star: “People have backed the campaign – I’d say 99 per cent of St Helens people have jumped on board.

It is fantastic they have noticed the depth of feeling.”

Council leader Marie Rimmer added: “For our borough to be an integral part of a ceremony that captured the attention of the world is beyond words.

The council’s cabinet has recommended a public consultation and the matter is set to be ratified by full council.

Should the change be approved, signs with the current motto would not be replaced straight away.

Instead new signs would be installed when required so not to incur any additional costs.

A number of signs featuring Ex Terra Lucem still remain across the borough.


A history of St Helens’ motto

The former county borough had its owned coat of arms granted in 1876. The motto was Ex Terra Lucem and referred to the importance of coal and glass in the town’s development.

When local government was reorganised in 1974, the new St Helens Borough Council was made up of the old county borough of St Helens together with urban district councils including Haydock and Newton.

It was decided that the larger council should have a new coat of arms to recognise the different areas.

They decided to use Prosperitas in Excelsis, which was apparently taken from Rainford Council’s badge of office.