A COMMUNITY campaign to restore a war memorial in time for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day is moving forward.

Residents and community leaders in Tursdale and nearby West Cornforth hope to reinstate a soldier statue on the First World War memorial at Tursdale by November 2018.

Artist Ray Lonsdale, who created the iconic 1101 ‘Tommy’ sculpture in Seaham, has designed a figure called Not Much to Ask which depicts a frontline soldier longing for home.

It would replace the original statue which vanished in the 1970s after it was removed for repairs, having apparently being damaged by drunken road workers a decade earlier.

Cornforth Parish Council has now applied to Durham County Council for planning permission to install a life size statue, made of steel which will weather to rust, on the existing plinth in the grounds of Tursdale Aged Miners Homes.

The council will also consider allocating £2,500 towards the £20,000 project, having set aside the same amount for the last two years.

If planning consent is approved, the council hopes it would pave the way to more sources of funding such as grants from Durham County Council's neighbourhood budget scheme and Tarmac.

Parish clerk Ray Sunman said: “Planning permission is important to allow the work and as a precursor for some significant funders.

“There have been local contributions too, around £1,300, and crowd funding schemes will add to that.

“We’re hopeful that the War Memorials Trust will assist with cleaning and repairs to the existing plinth and they've made some encouraging noises about possible help to replace the statue.”

Chairman of Cornforth Parish Council Alan Hodgson added: “There is certainly a will in the community to make it happen.”

Mr Sunman and his wife, Marian, plan to hold a fundraising dance at Cornforth Community Centre on Friday, November 11. They hope to attract dancers from Tyneside to North Yorkshire to the event so it does not detract from a regular Saturday dance which boosts centre funds.