Statue dedicated to life-saving teen unveiled in Sunderland

A statue dedicated to the life-saving actions of a Sunderland teenager has been unveiled in the city.

Paige Hunter, 18, has helped save 10 lives by writing messages of support and hope and securing them to the city’s Wearmouth Bridge in a bid to reach out to those in despair.

Paige Hunter with the statue in her honour.

Paige Hunter with the statue in her honour.

The teenager, from Plains Farm, was inspired to write the messages – which feature the Samaritans’ helpline number – back in July after seeing people do a similar thing on the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle.

Since then her messages have had a huge impact and led to the East Durham College student receiving a Special Commendation from Northumbria Police.

Today Paige was awarded a further honour when a foot-high statue of her was revealed at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

The young life-saver is one of just 25 inspiring women from across the country to be recognised with a mini-replica for making a significant contribution to their communities.

Paige Hunter's comfort notes left on Wearmouth Bridge

Paige Hunter's comfort notes left on Wearmouth Bridge

The statue comes as part of a Heritage Open Days (HODs) project called put her forward, and was commissioned by HODs as part of the main theme, ‘Extraordinary Women’, in recognition of the centenary of the Universal Suffrage Act.

All of the statues are of living women who have made a significant contribution to their communities.

Hundreds of nominations were gathered across the country, with the 25 women – spanning every age and background – chosen to be 3D scanned and 3D printed into foot-high statues.

Paige, who hopes to have a career in mental health, attended the unveiling event along with her family.

The 3D sculpture of Paige Hunter in recognition of her messages of support on Wearmouth Bridge.

The 3D sculpture of Paige Hunter in recognition of her messages of support on Wearmouth Bridge.

Those gathered heard how Paige has encouraged more people to talk about mental health and take direct action to support people within their own communities.

After seeing the statue, Paige said: “It is really overwhelming and surreal.

“I haven’t decided where I would like it to be showcased yet, but I would like it to be in the public eye.

“The statue features one of my notes from the bridge which says; ‘Place your hand on your heart. Can you feel it? You are alive for a reason so don’t give up.”

One of the notes left by Paige Hunter on the Wearmouth Bridge.

One of the notes left by Paige Hunter on the Wearmouth Bridge.

At the unveiling Paige made a speech thanking people for their support and took the opportunity to read out facts about mental health.

Heritage Open Days national manager Annie Reilly said: “It is extremely important that we recognise people like Paige who are making an impact on people not only directly, but also inspiring others.”