Helen mucks in to get sculpture ready

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A NEW landmark created near Cramlington has landed a starring role on television despite not being open to the public for months yet.

All-action TV presenter Helen Skelton was impressed by the Northumberlandia earth sculpture after visiting the region to take on a more gentle challenge than she’s been used to.

Having completing a 500-mile trek to the South Pole for Sport Relief in January, the same charity for which she kayaked more than 2,000 miles down the Amazon in 2010, the Blue Peter presenter has now made her mark on south east Northumberland by carrying out some landscaping work on the sculpture, the biggest of its kind in the world.

Her visit was filmed for a slot on BBC1’s Countryfile following the 28-year-old as she took a look around the 400m-long sculpture and spoke to some of the people involved in its design and construction over the last eight years.

The show will be broadcast on Sunday, April 1.

Landscaping work on what will be the world’s largest depiction of a human being in art is scheduled to be finished later this year, and, during her visit, Carlisle-born Helen worked with landscape architect Mark Simmons to put the finishing touches to its left hand.

She said: “I didn’t expect to find anything like this. I absolutely love it.

“It’s a great place to come for a family walk or a picnic, or even a workout. I’ve been running up and down it already.

“I’m really jealous that it’s up here and not in the north west where I live, and I’ll definitely be back here for a visit when it opens.”

Designed by Charles Jencks, Northumberlandia has been constructed by regional mining firm the Banks Group.

Banks and the Blagdon Estate, the land’s owner, are investing around £2.5m in the creation of the sculpture, the centrepiece of a 19-hectare public park.

Banks spokesman Katie Perkin said: “We were extremely pleased to welcome Helen and the Countryfile team to Northumberlandia and believe the profile that the national exposure this visit will give to the project will create even more excitement about the tourism, cultural, landscape and amenity benefits it will bring to this part of the north east.

“Helen has been involved in some amazing adventures over the last couple of years, and while north east England couldn’t be much more different to the South American rainforests or the snowy wastes of Antarctica, it’s clear that Northumberlandia made a real impression on her.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the programme.”

n Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell last week tabled an early-day motion in Parliament praising the Banks Group for creating the sculpture.

He said: “The motion recognises its areas of excellence in environmental performance and site management and its wonderful creation of Northumberlandia, known as the Goddess of the North, which will hopefully attract thousands of visitors to south east Northumberland.”

The motion was signed by other MPs including Wansbeck’s Ian Lavery.