A Northumberland school girl beat hundreds of children in a regional competition to see her artwork turned into a real-life mural, seen by thousands of motorists every day at the Tyne Tunnels.

Emily Clapham, 12, from Cramlington, won a public vote with her design that shows a 1970s campervan – which was the first vehicle to travel through the Tyne Tunnels when it switched to open-road-tolling – and the bees that live at the tunnels.

Tunnels operator, TT2, launched a competition to find a design that celebrates the tunnels becoming more environmentally friendly, with faster journeys and reduced congestion, since the river crossing became barrierless in November.

Children from across the North East submitted their entries, which were whittled down to four finalists, where a public vote on social media saw Emily’s design declared the winner.

Emily and her dad helped local artist Mark Shields paint the mural onto a wall at the Tyne Tunnels North site, in Wallsend.

Emily said: “Winning the competition has been an amazing experience.  I am so proud of the design and how the artist recreated it for the mural.  I never expected to be so huge! 

“Mark has really inspired me and he even let me help with the painting. I got to visit the Tyne Tunnels for a tour and even got to see the control room.  I am so grateful for the opportunity and will never forget it!  Thank you to the TT2 team and everyone involved.”

TT2 chief executive Philip Smith said: “Emily’s design looks fantastic. We see it as a fitting tribute to the significant benefit to generations of children who live near the tunnels that C02 emissions have been cut so drastically thanks to open road tolling.”

C02 emissions that were caused by the plazas have reduced by around 90% since the Tyne Tunnels moved to open road tolling in November 2021. The equivalent of 2,600 passenger return flights to New York were saved in February alone.