Vera double role for blacksmith Ashlee

Ashlee during filming.
Ashlee during filming.

The daughter of a renowned blacksmith has shown off her creative flair by making a prop for a major television show – before starring as a double in the programme.

Cast and crew of popular ITV drama Vera used Stephen Lunn’s family-run workshop and house in Red Row last week to shoot scenes for series seven.

Father and daughter Stephen Lunn and Ashlee Donaldson with Brenda Blethyn and Ashlees daughter Millie.

Father and daughter Stephen Lunn and Ashlee Donaldson with Brenda Blethyn and Ashlees daughter Millie.

And during filming at The Forge, his daughter and apprentice, Ashlee Donaldson, was given her chance to step into the spotlight.

The 25-year-old was used as a double for a female sculptor and she did some welding as the cameras rolled.

The mother-of-one has also demonstrated her crafting skills for real, by making an eye-catching prop for the programme – a seven-foot roseate tern sculpture – following a special request from the show.

Reflecting on the whole experience, she said: “Being a double was great – I really enjoyed it. I had to do a bit of welding; I started welding while Vera walked into the shot.

“It only started because they wanted the bird sculpture. When they came into the shop, they still hadn’t found anywhere to film. They saw our workshop and really liked it.

“They needed a part where somebody would be welding and asked if I would be up for it.”

The bird sculpture is a symbolic item for Ashlee. Not only will it star in Vera, but it is also one of the first projects that she has done solo.

Ashlee, who has been learning the trade for nearly three years, said: “My dad very much passed it on to me as my project. He stepped in on certain parts to help, but I did a lot of it on my own and it is one of the first projects that I have worked on on my own.

“I think the sculpture is being used as a memorial in the show and will be on a cliff.”

The Forge has been in the family since 1921 and Stephen joined the business in 1975. He said he was delighted to see Ashlee step in to help Vera.

He told the Gazette: “She loved it and it was a lovely experience for her. The show wanted us to make a bird in flight. I spend my time protecting the roseate terns on Coquet Island, so I suggested a roseate tern. They were really particular about the design and Ashlee made it from start to finish.”

Stephen said filming was a ‘great day’ for Red Row and he was pleased that the village had its chance in the spotlight. He was also full of praise for lead star Brenda Blethyn, who plays Vera. He said: “She worked incredibly hard and she is a very funny lady.”

Filming for Vera has taken place in various Northumberland locations over the last few weeks, including at Seahouses; Rumbling Kern, near Howick; and Craster. Shooting was held on the Farne Islands yesterday.