Hundreds turn out as £51,000 statue is unveiled to celebrate town's rich mining heritage
Hundreds of people have turned out in a Wearside town to see a monument to the area's rich mining heritage unveiled.
The £51,000 sculpture which was created by Ray Lonsdale, who is also behind the hugely popular Seaham monument Tommy, is now in place in Hetton's Front Street.
The artwork, which has the title Da Said "Men Don't Cry", has taken more than four years of planning and fund-raising to get finished and in place, with those involved hoping it provides a fitting tribute to those who worked at collieries in the area and also those who died in disasters.
Before the unveiling, a march took place from Hetton Workingmen’s Club with pit banners paraded through the village accompanied by music from Houghton Brass Band.
Children from Easington Lane Primary, Eppleton Academy Primary, Hetton Lyons Primary, Hetton Primary, East Rainton Primary and Hetton School were present to sing songs while time capsules were also buried beneath the base of the statue before the big reveal.
Minister Stephen Hill blessed the artwork, which depicts a miner and his son after it was formally unveiled by former Eppleton Colliery under manager Harold Watson.
Chairman of the Culture for Hetton group David Geddis said: "I'm very emotional at seeing this unveiled as my dad Jack worked at Eppleton Colliery for 42 years.
"The original cost was going to be £34,000, but we've ended up having to raise £51,000 which is a fantastic effort.
"It's been four years in the making, but I think it's worth every penny.
"It's not something just for Culture for Hetton or Hetton Town Council, it's for everyone, and I hope the people are as delighted with the finished article as I am."
Also in attendance for the reveal was Durham-born musician and music producer Trevor Horn CBE, whose late father John Robert worked at Elemore Colliery.
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"Even just 50 years ago so many of the people living around here worked in mining, so it's important we remember that," said Trevor, who gained international acclaim following his 1979 hit single Video Killed The Radio Star, written with his band The Buggles.
"I think it's a very nice statue and I'm really pleased by how it looks.
"My cousin and great nephew posed as the models for it and the artist has done a great job."
Bill Arden's late mum Greta worked at Eppleton Colliery and treated those injured at disasters at Eppleton and Easington in the 1950s.
"She would really have liked this," said Bill, 72, of Houghton.
Former Hetton Lyons Primary School teacher Janice Young, 66, said of the statue: "I think it's absolutely wonderful.
"I go around looking at a lot of different statues and this one is brilliant.
"When I used to teach at the school some of the children weren't even aware what coal is so it's important that they remember the history of the area.
"You would like to think that the statue does for Hetton what Tommy has done for Seaham and people come from far and wide to see it."