Unveiled this weekend: Seaham Tommy’s little brother to honour RNLI volunteers

How The Coxswain will look
How The Coxswain will look
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Seaham’s stunning Tommy statue gets a little brother this weekend.

The Coxswain, at Seaham Harbour Marina, is a new statue by Tommy sculptor Ray Lonsdale and will develop the same rust-like finish.

Sculptor Ray Lonsdale with Tommy in Seaham.

Sculptor Ray Lonsdale with Tommy in Seaham.

The 8ft-tall model of a historic RNLI lifeboat crew, sculpted from Corden steel, will be unveiled by RNLI Head of Lifesaving Jon Knight at 1pm on Sunday.

He will be joined by surviving members of RNLI Seaham and the families of former members, together with representatives of the project’s funders and supporters.

A Heritage Group spokesman said: “The statue is a fitting tribute to those who manned the station over the 109 years it served the Durham coast and to those who lost their lives saving those in peril.

“The response we have had to the announcement that the memorial is to be unveiled has been very encouraging. It will be a very valuable added feature of the Marina remembering all those who served, risked and gave their lives at RNLI Seaham during the 109 years of its existence.”

It came together well and I am really pleased with the end result. Hopefully the public will take to it and enjoy it.

Ray Lonsdale

Funding for the project has been provided from three sources, the Durham County Councillors representing Seaham, via the Area Action Partnership; the County Durham Community Foundation, and East Durham Heritage Group reserves.

The group has worked with the artist to ensure the statue of the coxswain is historically accurate, including his 1950’s oilskin coat, sou’wester and life jacket.

Marina director Tony Forster said: “We’re all so excited about the unveiling of the statue; it’s been such a great achievement of the Heritage Centre.

“Seaham Harbour Marina has so much to offer visitors, from its stunning coastal views, to the brilliant businesses and cafes, plus it’s an ideal point from which you can explore local heritage.

“The artwork is fantastic. We’re sure the new statue will be incredibly popular with everyone and will bring many new visitors to the marina to experience all it has to offer.”

The statue will take pride of place on the East Quay, close to the heritage centre which offers visitors the chance to explore information on the maritime, industrial and social history and heritage of the Seaham and East Durham area. Visitors to the Heritage Centre, which is run by volunteers, can also see the restored George Elmy lifeboat and learn about the tragic events of the of November 17, 1962, when the boat capsized, claiming the lives of five volunteer crew members and four fishermen it had just rescued.

Ray Lonsdale said: “I was delighted to be asked to create a statue dedicated to the RNLI by the heritage group. They proved to be a determined bunch who managed to commission the project relatively quickly and were a pleasure to work with.

“The sculpture itself was interesting to make with its period clothing and movement in the pose. It came together well and I am really pleased with the end result. Hopefully the public will take to it and enjoy it.”

The Heritage Group is keen to hear from members of the public who have an interest in East Durham’s heritage and who might wish to join as a volunteer.