WHEN blacksmith Bill Cordaroy heard about the tragic deaths of four Suffolk workmates he felt compelled to honour their memory.

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The 63-year-old, who works from a forge at his home in East Ruston, Norfolk, has spent the best part of two years imagining and creating a commemorative sculpture following the industrial accident in January 2011.

And yesterday he presented the finished article to the father of two of the four friends.

Brothers Daniel, 30, and Thomas Hazelton, 26, and their workmates Peter Johnson (PJ), 42, and Adam Taylor, 28, from Stanton and Rickinghall, all died in the heartbreaking incident at a factory site in Great Yarmouth.

Mr Cordaroy, who has been a blacksmith for more than 35 years, said: “The story of these lads and what happened to them just hit me.

“When it comes to my sculptures, I choose stories that inspire me. It took me a long time to think through how I would approach it and what size the sculpture would be.”

The finished piece, made of mild steel, stands around ten inches tall and 16 inches wide and shows the four men with their arms around each other’s shoulders.

“I wanted to show the friendship between the men,” Mr Cordaroy said. “These were guys who not only worked together but also lived near each other.”

Mr Cordaroy, who is chairman of the British Association of Artist Blacksmiths, has also agreed to produce some miniature versions of his sculpture so family members can have replicas.

The creative gesture has delighted the Hazelton family, who met Mr Cordaroy at their home in Garboldisham.

Daniel and Thomas’s father, Bob, said: “I think it is absolutely fantastic. When he contacted us to say he had made this it was like a bolt out of the blue. It’s very inspiring what he has done. It’s taken him two years and you can see the man has put so much into it. You can see the emotion.”

Mr Hazelton said he hoped Mr Cordaroy’s original work could be incorporated into a memorial that is due to be developed in Stanton with the help of funds raised by readers of the East Anglian Daily Times.

The Four Friends Memorial Fund, which was launched in liaison with the men’s families, has reached more than £35,000 thanks to generous donations. The Stanton memorial is expected to take the form of four chairs around a central sculpture, while another memorial in Rickinghall, comprising two benches, a tree and a plaque, is now in place.

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