Medals receive an expert touch

Hannah Gregory and Stephen Lunn with the Festival of Alnwick medal.
Hannah Gregory and Stephen Lunn with the Festival of Alnwick medal.

A WORLD-CHAMPION blacksmith has created medals specially for a one-off festival in Alnwick.

Carrying on the family business at Red Row, Stephen Lunn has made medals for those who win competitions at the week-long Festival of Alnwick, complete with a design by 15-year-old Hannah Gregory.

The Festival of Alnwick medal.

The Festival of Alnwick medal.

The Duchess’s Community High School student won a competition to design the logo (right) for the week of events.

But little did she know that her lion’s head and mane would be used as the logo on medals which will be given out at the closing ceremony to end the festival on Friday, June 15.

And last week, Hannah had a go at making her own medal at Stephen’s forge.

Stephen has been a blacksmith for 37 years. He has won competitions across the world and has created masterpieces such as the Alnwick Market Place benches and work in Wetherspoon pubs across the country, all from a workshop in Red Row.

To create the medals, Stephen makes a plate, using punches of the different elements of the design.

“It’s trial and error,” he said.

“It took three goes to get the one for the lion. On one of them the nose was wonky, I tried it with the eyes standing out but it didn’t look right.”

Once the design has been finalised, Stephen heats the metal in the fire. It is then quickly transferred to a hammer on which the plate design is fitted.

A drop hammer is then used to imprint the logo onto the metal and it is left to cool.

The whole process takes around 20 minutes for each medal and Stephen is making about 75 in total.

“I like to play around with the design,” he said.

“You have to make sure you get the right perspective, as all the elements lay on top of each other.

“The letters are the hardest. They have to be put on in reverse order. I have got the lovely drop hammer and this is an ideal job for it. The more jobs I get, the more I can use it.”

Karen Larkin, Festival of Alnwick coordinator, approached Stephen about the medals earlier this year and he was happy to be a part of the event.

Karen said: “The craftsmanship that is going into making these medals is incredible.

“Stephen has been very supportive and helpful from the very start and anyone who is awarded one of these medal should feel very proud.”

During the week of events a series of competitions are being held by clubs and societies from across north Northumberland.

The winners of these contests will be given a medal for their efforts by the Duchess of Northumberland at the festival’s closing ceremony in The Alnwick Garden.

Tickets for the event cost £2, details on Page 13.