THE mission to ensure a much-loved steel statue remains in a North-East coastal town appears to have proved successful.
A three-month community campaign has been staged to ensure the nine-foot sculpture, Eleven ‘O’ One, remains a permanent feature on the sea front at Seaham, County Durham.
It depicts a weary-looking soldier at the Armistice, marking the end of the First World War.
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Sculptor Ray Lonsdale, of nearby South Hetton, has turned down two other offers to purchase his1.2-tonne corten steel creation, lovingly dubbed Tommy by the people of Seaham.
Mr Lonsdale said he preferred to see it stay in situ, on the Terrace Green, where it was to have remained until August 4, the 100th anniversary of Britain declaring hostilities with Germany, marking the start of the First World War.
It has attracted droves of visitors to the green, providing a huge boost for traders on nearby North Terrace.
An £85,000 target was set up by local campaign group Mission 1101, with many local individuals and businesses rallying to support the cause, which won the backing of local members of Seaham Town Council and Durham County Council.
The fundraisers’ JustGiving donations site has declared it has now passed the figure, with the milestone marked on its Facebook page declaring: “News in from Durham County Council is that the money will be here in time for the deadline on August 4.
“Your committee will keep you updated of the transfer of ownership.
“Well done everyone!”
The retention of Tommy was actually secured once sufficient was raised to meet a deposit, the terms of which guaranteed it would not be sold to any other party.
Local councillors Eddie Bell, and his wife Jenny, members of both town and county councils, each made £5,000 donations from their neighbourhood funds, to boost the tally.
Cllr Eddie Bell, the town council leader, said: “It has been funded by the local community and greater public through the campaigns.
“It was a case of facilitating it in whatever way we could.”
David Stewart, chairman of Mission 1101, said the campaign committee wanted to thank “each and everyone” who supported the fund.
“Without that we would not have been able to take this positive step in securing Tommy for the people of Seaham,” he said.
• Details of donations made and the final figure can be checked via www.justgiving.com/Mission1101/, while www.mission1101.co.uk, is the campaign site.