Mum’s joy as Ray Lonsdale’s new Launch Day sculpture is revealed to her seven-year-old daughter Annie

A mum has expressed her joy after Ray Lonsdale’s new sculpture is revealed to her seven-year-old daughter Annie, who was the focal point of his latest creation.

Ray’s latest creation, named “Launch Day”, features a little girl sat with her grandfather overlooking the River Wear – with seven-year-old Annie being the inspiration for designing the little girl.

Annie Sawicki spent weeks at Ray’s workshop being measured and photographed for the piece and on Tuesday, December 21, she got to see it completed for the first time.

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From left: Lilly and Annie Sawicki and Ray Lonsdale with the Launch Day sculpture. Photo: Paul Levitt.

Her mum, Louise Sawicki, has revealed how her daughter reacted when she saw the sculpture for the first time.

The 39-year-old, from Peterlee, said: “It was just amazing, Annie was super excited to see it and I think she was a bit surprised at the scale of it as it is loads bigger than her.

"She loved having her photo taken alongside her older sister Lilly and she really likes the fact that the little girl in the sculpture is holding a 99 ice cream cone.

"It has been a nice Christmas present for all of us to see it before Christmas and we cannot thank Ray enough for all this, his work is just brilliant.”

The sculpture is set to be displayed on the banks of the River Wear once a location has been identified. Photo: Paul Levitt.

The 56-year-old commented: “The idea is the grandfather is a former shipyard worker, explaining to his granddaughter what the shipyards used to be like and what it was like on launch day when one of the boats was finished.

"Having created the grandfather I needed a girl who was around six or seven years old and so I asked her dad, who owns the car garage near my workshop, and he said his daughter Annie was really keen to do it.

"She did a really good job and would sit there nice and still while I took measurements and photographs on which I could base my design.”

Annie's favourite part of the artwork is the fact that the little girl is holding a 99 ice cream cone.

She added: “Now that it is finished, we are just waiting on Sunderland City Council to approve a permanent location for it however we understand that it could take a while yet.

"We’re looking forward to it being on display as it will be sentimental to us as a family and it will be a place where Annie will be able to take her children.

"The fact that it is made on her is just brilliant, we are such proud parents.”

The sculpture is the second stage in a two piece creation which will be unveiled alongside a a separate sculpture named “Dead and Gone”.

The first piece shows two men who are shipyard workers having their packed lunch right at the end of the shipyard period here in Sunderland.

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