Denise Robertson backs Seaham soldier sculpture bid

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DENISE Robertson has said she is “100 per cent behind” efforts to make Seaham the permanent posting for a First World War artwork.

The agony aunt and author has given her backing to the campaign after joining the thousands who have been captivated by the sculpture.

She lived in the town for more than 30 years, with her father-in-law Bill from her second marriage to Jack Tomlin among those to be recognised for his bravery during the conflict with medals, which are now in the care of her late son John’s family in Seaham.

“It would be wonderful to keep it in Seaham. The town had a very proud record in that war,” said Denise. “I am 100 per cent behind it and it will put the North East on the map.”

Denise has just returned from France, where she helped This Morning make a feature on D-Day, to mark the 70th anniversary of the mission, and visited war graves, where she met parents visiting with their children to explain what happened and the impact of the war.

She plans to see the 9.5 ft high, 1.2 tonne steel sculpture for herself as soon as she gets the chance, having admired it from photographs.

Sunderland-born Denise also plans to offer a donation to the cause and has suggested cash raised is passed on to its creator, South Hetton-based Ray Lonsdale, to ensure it stays in the town before campaigners miss out to a private buyer.

The piece is on loan for three months as part of an agreement with Seaham Town Council, which hopes to bring in visitors to the town as part of a “changing landscape” of artwork.

It has backed calls the from residents, businesses and fans of the soldier sculpture, called Eleven ‘O’ One, with £85,000 needed by a VAT-registered organisation to buy it, or £102,000 if VAT must be paid.

The Echo has also launched Soldier On to promote the campaign.

Washington architect and broadcaster George Clarke has also voiced his support for the piece, tweeting he thinks it looks “amazing”.

The Facebook page Mission 1101 set up at the weekend has already gained more than 3,000 fans.

•CASH collections are under way with tins set up in businesses across Seaham. The town council has also published details of how people with online banking can gift money to Seaham Town Council, sort code: 08-90-22, account number: 61118274, reference: TOMMY.

More details can be found via the council’s Facebook page.