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Local Sculptor honours Skelton’s Antarctic Explorer

ByDave Stopher

Sep 3, 2016

You are all welcome to attend, celebrate this man’s achievements and share refreshments with us.

Commander John Robert Francis “Frank” Wild CBE RNVR FRGS was born in Skelton in 1873, the first son of Benjamin and Mary (nee Cook). The family grew to 8 boys and 3 girls (plus 2 children who died in infancy). At age 16, Frank Wild joined the Merchant Navy and was taken aboard the ‘Sobraon’ – at that time the largest fully rigged composite ship. So began his career on the seas and his eventually becoming one of the world’s greatest Antarctic explorers, often second in command to Ernest Shackleton.

His achievements have been marked several times with the award of medals from Geographical Societies, including the Livingstone Gold Medal, for the most outstanding feat of exploration south of the Equator. Frank Wild was also awarded the ‘Polar Medal with Four Clasps’ – only two of which have ever been issued.

However, little has been made public of this Skelton boy’s success in Antarctica.

William Harling Dip.AD, MRBS, Sculptor, sought to honour this great man and decided to sculpt an image of Frank Wild and asked for the Sculpture to be placed in Skelton-in-Cleveland, the village in which Wild was born.

Originally from Middlesbrough, William gained a Dip.AD in sculpture at Maidstone College of Art in 1969. In 1997 after a period of art and industrial projects, he started sculpting full time in Hove, Sussex. His work has been displayed regularly at Brighton Open Houses, Surrey Sculpture Society, Broomhill Sculpture Park, Newby Hall and Pride of the Valley Sculpture Park, as well as Worthing Art Gallery, Sotheby’s, Burghley House and The Albermarle Gallery, London. Mr Harling sought to honour Frank Wild and has kindly designed and donated this work of art to Skelton, modelled in clay and cast in a resin composite.

William approached ‘Friends of Skelton Community Orchard’ who, over the past 18 months have created Ringrose Orchard -a beautiful garden area in the centre of Skelton-in-Cleveland.  The ‘Friends’ were more than happy to work with William and, aided by Skelton History Group, an Interpretation panel has been created to stand alongside the sculpture of Frank Wild. The work has been entitled Frank Wild – Shackleton’s Return

A special ceremony will be held on Thursday September 29th at 11:00 am at Ringrose Orchard in Skelton when Mr Anthony Wharton will unveil this tribute to this great local born Antarctic Explorer.

You are all welcome to attend, celebrate this man’s achievements and share refreshments with us.

Supported by Local Borough Councillors. Skelton and Brotton Parish Council, Skelton History Group,          Friends of Skelton Community Orchard