RAY Lonsdale, the man behind Seaham's famous Tommy sculpture of a soldier from the First World War, will help to open a new business centre.

Mr Lonsdale's sculpture, which is officially named 1101 owing to the fact the armistice went into effect at 11am on November 11, 1918, along with the multi-million-pound regeneration of Seaham, has helped the town become a regional tourist attraction.

It has also inspired the decor of Enterprise House Seaham, a business facility created in an unused unit on Seaham Grange Industrial Estate.

Andy Laundon and Lee Bishton, directors at electrical contracting firm Retroflo, are behind the development.

Mr Laundon said: “Throughout the building there are touches that really celebrate the sculpture, while we’ve also had the walls decorated with visually striking images of the town, including the harbour area. These touches really add to the business facilities we’ve created, which include offices of varying sizes, meeting rooms and conference facilities.”

Mr Lonsdale will be the guest of honour at the building's opening on Thursday, October 17. He will say a few words before signing Tommy artwork on the walls inside the building. Mayor of Seaham Councillor Linda Willis will officially open the centre, and people from businesses and organisations across County Durham will attend.

Catering at the launch will be provided by the newly revamped and relocated ALs Place, which is as well as a café within Enterprise House also provides private and corporate catering within a 10-mile radius of Seaham.

Speaking about the decision to create Enterprise House, which also accommodates the expanded Retroflo office team, Andy continued: “We knew there was very little office space for new and growing businesses in the area and given the need to find additional premises for Retroflo, converting Enterprise House was a win-win for us.

“Enterprise House is welcoming and modern, offering businesses flexible high-quality space which can take them through their journey from launch or early stage growth up to around 10 people, which is the maximum number of people our biggest office can accommodate.

“The building also provides meeting rooms for our tenants, and conferencing facilities for companies in the area who are looking to host an event or staff or board meeting off-site. Again, there is very little like that available, so we know there is a demand for it.

"A big thing for us is to encourage all of our tenants to interact and help each another, which will not only create a real community spirit within Enterprise House but will also support growth and success.”