A WIRRAL art student has won a competition to design a commemorative sculpture for the first HMS Birkenhead.

Jemma Twigg, who is studying for an ABC Foundation Diploma in art, design and media at Birkenhead Sixth Form College, Birkenhead, was selected from hundreds of entrants, winning a £500 prize.

Her design will now be manufactured by apprentices at Cammell Laird shipyard as a lasting memorial to the historic ship, which sank in 1852 off the coast of South Africa while transporting troops and civilians.

HMS Birkenhead was built by Cammell Laird and the sculpture will be situated near Woodside overlooking the River Mersey

Jemma, 18, said: "It really is an honour to have my work chosen as a memorial to the HMS Birkenhead.

"It was a total surprise when my design was selected, but I feel very proud."

The project to create a memorial was launched by Wirral resident Andrew Liston, a crewman of New Brighton's Lifeboat Station.

Andrew joined forces with Wirral Council's memorials officer Peter Lee to have a permanent memorial built to HMS Birkenhead, which gave rise to the famous 'women and children first' maritime protocol – now known as the Birkenhead Drill.

Cammell Laird agreed to sponsor the project with their apprentices manufacturing the design and a competition was opened inviting students from the region's art colleges to design a sculpture of what the HMS Birkenhead stands for.

Andrew said: "Jemma’s design was selected as it told a real story of the meaning behind the HMS Birkenhead.

"More importantly to me will be the fact that this internationally famous event that saw the 'men stand fast and women and children placed first' will have a home to all in the UK."

Kathryn Podmore, principal at The Sixth Form College, added: "This is a wonderful achievement for Jemma and I am delighted that her work has been recognised in this way.

"It is also a proud moment for the college to be involved in commemorating an important part of Wirral's history."

The commemorative sculpture is set to be unveiled in March.