Tommy sculptor creates story chair for school

Youngsters at a primary school have a very special place for reading - thanks to a new sculpture.

Friday, 9th June 2017, 12:00 pm
South Hetton Primary School headteacher Lucy Griffiths and pupils with the new Ray Lonsdale-designed reading chair.

The lucky pupils at South Hetton Primary School have a new reading chair in the grounds - built by Ray Lonsdale, best known for his statue of soldier ‘Tommy’ in Seaham.

The beautiful silver chair, sculpted out of metal, is now pride of place in the wildlife garden of the school, in Frederick Road.

Headteacher Lucy Griffiths said Ray is supportive of the school, which is in his home village, and his family are former pupils at the primary.

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She said they applied for a grant to commission the sculpture and when it arrived the school was thrilled.

Mrs Griffiths said the primary puts a lot of emphasis on promoting a love of reading among the children and the story chair will be a huge benefit for that and to the outside space.

She added: “We asked the children what they would like outside and they said ‘a box of books’ so we thought we would create a lovely reading space.

“When the lorry pulled up with the chair, we couldn’t believe, it really is something special.”

The story chair is created to look like piles of books and the children have to use them as steps to get up onto the chair.

Mrs Griffiths said the members of staff had a vote about where the chair, which is in a traditional Ray Lonsdale style and will darken as it weathers, would be put and the wildlife garden was the winner.

Members of the community will also be able to benefit from the story chair.

She added: “Our grounds are open to the public after hours and we get a lot of childminders who bring the children along then, so they will be able to use it as well.”

South Hetton Primary School already has a 10ft iron giant sculpture by Ray Lonsdale in the school hall, which is very popular.

“We are so lucky to have these artworks.”