AN award-winning chainsaw sculptor has delivered carvings of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to a North-East visitor centre in time for Christmas.

It took Tommy Craggs two weeks, using rare redwood sequoia, to create the three beautiful figures for Ushaw, on the outskirts of Durham.

More sculptures will be added for next Christmas as funds are raised, so supporters can sponsor a shepherd, stump up for a sheep, donate for a donkey, or commission a king.

The self-taught artist, who is based in Consett, said: “It was a really exciting commission and I’d love to be able to do more figures to add to the collection – I’d particularly like to try the Three Wise Men.”

Tommy has already produced sculptures of a badger, fox, and a serpent as well as benches, for the gardens at Ushaw.

Ushaw’s Director of Operations Peter Seed said: “We are thrilled at the end result and it’s fantastic to see the nativity figures completed in time for Christmas. They will be a valuable addition to the attractions here at Ushaw.”

Mr Seed added: “Hopefully, this is just the start because we’d like to encourage visitors and supporters to help fund more figures so that our nativity scene can grow in the years ahead.”

The figures will be placed on the steps leading up to the sanctuary in the stunning St Cuthbert’s Chapel, with Saturday being Ushaw’s last day of public admission before Christmas.

Tommy was assisted in producing the figures by his girlfriend, Patrcyja Picha, a sculptor living in Poland. They had previously worked together on a commission to sculpt nativity figures for a homeless centre in Poland.

Ushaw is this year celebrating the 450th anniversary of its founder college at Douai in France.

The historic College closed seven years ago but reopened four years ago as a visitor centre, events and exhibitions venue, and business hub.

Christmas is a major event for visitors to Ushaw with a Christmas tree festival, performances of the Snowman and carol concerts in the beautiful St Cuthbert’s chapel. Ushaw has already welcomed more than 3,500 visitors for Christmas events this year and there is still time to catch a Jazzy Christmas on Thursday, December 20, at 7.30pm, a screening of It’s a Wonderful Life on Friday, December 21 at 2.30pm, and the final carols and lighting of the Advent Wreath on Saturday, December 22 at 3.00pm.

  • To find out more about Ushaw and opening times, go to www.ushaw.org. If you want to help us celebrate Christmas in 2019 by “sponsoring a shepherd” please email meet@Ushaw.org