A MEMORIAL to the countless North-East fishermen who lost their lives at work has been unveiled.

Hundreds of people attended the unveiling of Fiddler’s Green, a 10ft sculpture created by Ray Lonsdale, the artist behind the Tommy sculpture in Seaham, and inspired by a 1950s photograph of a local fisherman.

The work of art has been installed at the Fish Quay in North Shields and is designed as a lasting tribute to those fishermen who died doing their jobs after leaving the port.

The £75,000 sculpture was officially unveiled by North Tyneside’s Mayor Norma Redfearn and Julie Myhill, whose partner James Noble was the last fisherman to lose his life after leaving the port.

Ms Myhill said: “There are memorials all over the country but there’s been nothing in North Shields until now.

“James has a plaque on the fish quay, but I am over the moon that there is now somewhere for me to come to at the seafront to think of James.”

The campaign for a memorial was led by the North Shields Fishermen’s Heritage Project.

Vice chairman Henry Howard, who came up with the idea after his granddaughter told him there should be something to honour lost fishermen, said: “It’s been a really proud day for me to finally see the memorial for lost fishermen unveiled.

“I am prouder still to have been able to make my granddaughter’s wish come true - she will now see a memorial to the fishermen who never came home.

“It’s a privilege to have worked alongside a fantastic team who have worked tirelessly to make this day happen - I salute them for their commitment to this project.”

Chairman Terry McDermott added: “The memorial looks fantastic on site. I find it thought-provoking and emotional.

“Straight away it made me think of all the Shields men I sailed with in the past years; hard, hard men with hearts of gold.”

Sculptor Ray Lonsdale created the memorial, which was inspired by an image of a fisherman taken in 1959 by local photographer Harry Hann.

He said: “Fiddler’s Green is one of the larger pieces I’ve done, and it’s been interesting for me tackling a different area like the fishing industry, I’ve really enjoyed doing it.

“Memorial unveilings are always a bit of a nerve-wracking time for me because of the sense of anticipation and you just don’t know what reaction you’ll get when the covers come off, but I was delighted that the feedback at its unveiling was so positive.”