Tommy to get sea hero brother as RNLI artwork plans revealed for Seaham

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Tommy is set to get a sailor brother after an artwork was commissioned from the same artist to immortalise the dedication of lifeboat heroes.

Following campaigning and fundraising by Seaham’s East Durham Heritage and Lifeboat Centre, work has strated on a statue in commemoration of Royal National Lifeboat Institution crew and staff who served at the town’s lifeboat station.

Sculptor Ray Lonsdale of Two Red Rubber things, South Hetton, with Tommy on Terrace Green in Seaham.

Sculptor Ray Lonsdale of Two Red Rubber things, South Hetton, with Tommy on Terrace Green in Seaham.

The piece will be dedicated to those who worked there between its opening in 1870 and its closure in 1979.

Created by South Hetton sculptor Ray Lonsdale, who made the world-famous Tommy statue which stands on Seaham’s Terrace Green, it will depict a life-size lifeboat crew member in period dress.

It will be given pride of place in Seaham Harbour Marina, home the information centre run by the history enthusiasts.

It is set to be unveiled on the east quay next month.

We are thrilled that this statue will help us to show everyone who visits us that the marina has much more to offer besides the very popular boats, beaches and the many great businesses.

Peter Coe

It will compliment much of the display the group runs, as well as the George Elmy lifeboat, which was restored to its original glory thanks to a community campaign.

Ernie Cooper, a member of the group, said: “Seaham has such a rich heritage and we’ve had so many selfless and brave lifeboat volunteers throughout the years.

“It is fantastic that we can dedicate this project to all those people who risked their lives and the wellbeing of their families to save those in peril, and show our respect for their efforts here in Seaham.

“It’s been a long process to get to this point from the initial talks and ideas, so it’s exciting that work has now begun.
“With the success of Tommy, we hope our statue will be equally stunning and help to spark an interest in the marina’s rich history and the fascinating stories of the lifeboat station which used to operate here.

Ernie Cooper at work on the wooden fixtures of the George Elmy during its restoration.

Ernie Cooper at work on the wooden fixtures of the George Elmy during its restoration.

“We’re always keen to hear from members of the public who have an interest in East Durham’s heritage and who might be interested in joining us as a volunteer.”

The heritage group has liaised with Ray to ensure the design of the 8ft-tall statue is historically accurate, with the statue including a recreation of a classic oilskin coat and life jacket from the 1950s.

One member of the group even modelled for the artist in full period dress to help him to understand the intricacies of the sculpture.

Peter Coe, director at the marina, said: “We’re proud that the marina has such a rich and interesting past.

Members of East Durham Heritage Group, with the George Elmy lifeboat in the background at their base in Seaham Marina.

Members of East Durham Heritage Group, with the George Elmy lifeboat in the background at their base in Seaham Marina.

“We are thrilled that this statue will help us to show everyone who visits us that the marina has much more to offer besides the very popular boats, beaches and the many great businesses.

“Not only is it an excellent place for a family day out but it’s a perfect location to delve into the history of the local area and learn some really fascinating tales.”

To find out more about Seaham Harbour Marina, visit www.seahammarina.co.uk and www.eastdurhamheritagegroup.co.uk.

East Durham Heritage Group members pictured outside their Seaham Marina base, which is set to become home to a new artwork by Ray Lonsdale.

East Durham Heritage Group members pictured outside their Seaham Marina base, which is set to become home to a new artwork by Ray Lonsdale.

Seaham's Tommy statue has won fans young and old and from across the world.

Seaham's Tommy statue has won fans young and old and from across the world.

A sketch of what the finished piece by Ray Lonsdale could look like.

A sketch of what the finished piece by Ray Lonsdale could look like.