After weeks of speculation and anticipation the creator of the beloved Salty Sam has finally revealed himself.
Andy Sharrocks, of Sandhurst Lane, Bexhill, built the sculpture who was found on Bexhill beach with no trace of how he got there or who put him there.
He planned to stay anonymous but because of the vandalism and subsequent rescue, he has come forward to help restore Salty Sam.
The 57-year-old grandfather of two now plans to work with Pit-Stop Youth Workshop manager Lee Dunn to fix him before putting him back so the public can enjoy him again.
Andy, who is an artist and musician who has performed with Mick Taylor from The Rolling Stones, did not expect Salty Sam to be such a hit.
“I never imagined he would cause such a stir – I just thought a few dog walkers would see him,” he said.
“On the day I installed him, it was a beautiful Sunday and me and my wife went down to the beach and sat close to him and it was quite incredible the reaction he got.”
Salty Sam has been one of the hottest topics of Bexhill with many praising him on social media.
But after he was vandalised and Lee decided to fix him after the public outcry against the perpetrators, Andy wanted to get involved.
“I wanted to stay incognito but after everything that’s happened I wanted to help,” he said.
“I think it’s really sad that somebody would do that – I don’t understand it.
“In the grand scheme of things it’s not as bad as a 2,000 year old temple being destroyed but still.”
Another piece of good news is Salty Sam’s poem that was missing has now been found by the beach litter picker Mick who helped Andy collect driftwood.
Mick would deposit the wood he found at a secret location for Andy to use so the artist checked there and thankfully Mick had found it.
The inspiration for Salty Sam came from Andy’s daily dog walks on the beach and another dog walker wanting a similar thing to Antony Gormley’s sculptures in Liverpool.
Andy said the name just came from a nickname that developed while making him.
Lee was pleased Andy sacrificed his anonymity to help him and the children at the workshop put Salty Sam back together.
“I’m really pleased that he came forward as it means we can take the restoration of Salty Sam forward in the right way,” he said.
“We want to make sure he’s restored properly and make sure his future is secured.”
Lee said lots of families have visited the workshop to meet Salty Sam as many are worried about him and want to see him back to his best.
“Salty Sam represents everything good about a seaside town,” he said.
Andy is a well established artist and currently has a gallery of work on show at Nolia’s art gallery on Great Suffolk Street in London.
He is a well-connected musican too as he has supported blues singer John Mayo and worked with Paul Jones from The Manfreds.
Andy is also a carer for his wife who he said loves Salty Sam and thought it was just another one of his ‘mad ideas’.
It took him 12 weeks to build the wooden sculpture completely out of three year’s worth of driftwood he collected and handmade dowels to put it together.
“It was a labour of love – it’s not like a Meccano set where everything fits together nicely,” he said.
“I went down to the beach at five o’clock in the morning so nobody would see me as I would have looked like I was carrying a dead body!
“I was waiting for the sirens and the police come down but they never did thankfully.”
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