CAMPAIGNERS who hope to keep an iconic sculpture on Seaham seafront have raised almost half of the £85,000 needed to buy it.
The Eleven ‘O’ One sculpture, depicting a First World War soldier, was an instant hit when it was placed in North Terrace last month.
Created by South Hetton artist Ray Lonsdale, it is on a three-month loan to the town.
Fans of the artwork want to see it stay in Seaham and have set up Mission 1101 to raise cash to meet the artist’s price for the piece.
It will cost Seaham Town Council £85,000 if they buy it on behalf of the supporters in the next nine weeks, when the display is due to end.
The £40,000 raised so far will be used as a deposit to secure the purchase.
David Stewart, chairman of Mission 1101, is delighted with the amount collected already, but says the momentum must continue.
He said: “This deposit will hold it for a short period of time and is temporary, but it will give us the time to hopefully raise the rest of the funding.
“The response so far has been incredible.
“People have really got behind it and it’s brought the community together, which is fantastic.”
He urged people to channel events and funds through the committee so the cash collecting process is monitored.
Donations should only be made to collectors wearing official T-shirts who show ID and carry a letter from the committee, confirming they are official representatives. The town council will meet on Wednesday to discuss its part in the campaign and is expected to agree to take on the upkeep and insurance of the 9.5ft-high piece, which is made from corten steel and weighs 1.2tonnes.
County and town Councillors Eddie and Jenny Bell will donate £5,000 from their county council neighbourhood funds.
Councillor Eddie Bell, who is leader of the town council, said: “The town council has ambitions to keep this in Seaham.
“We don’t want any glory for it, but we can facilitate the buying of it, and if we can keep the VAT back by buying it through public money, that makes sense to me. We would put a plaque on it, saying this was bought by the people of Seaham.”
The council will meet on Wednesday in the new town hall, in the former Seaham Red Star Club, at 7pm on Wednesday, with 15 minutes set aside at the start of the session for residents to ask questions.
If the full amount is not raised, the funds will be used to commission Mr Lonsdale to create a different piece of art.
The donation page for Mission 1101 can be found via www.justgiving.com/Mission1101, along with details on how donations can be made via text.