A MIGHTY whale beached in Morecambe Bay 17 years ago will be resurrected in spirit to join Saturday's Ulverston Lantern Procession.

Lantern artists Hannah Fox and Duncan Copley have reached back to memories of the rare Sei whale that came to rest on the sands of Greenodd as inspiration for a spectacular lantern for this year's festival which has Under the Sea as its theme.

The couple were among the hundreds who went to visit the 45-feet female whale, affectionately nicknamed Stinky, which washed up near Greenodd on October 9, 2001.

It had become stranded at Pilling Sands and died 10 days earlier, then one of only 14Sei whales ever to be found in British waters. Its skeleton is now part of National Museums Scotland's marine mammal collection.

"It was an enormous and beautiful creature that left quite an impression on all those who saw it," said Hannah Fox.

"We've tried to get the detail as it would have been in life, using thin willows to recreate the lines of its amazing bulbous throat and of course with a mighty swishing tale.

"Plus as an Ulverston whale there are a few extra special details on her back imagining her carrying the spirit of the town with her. Historian Jennifer Snell has helped inspire the forms for that, unearthing some great old pictures."

At nearly eight metres long, the lantern is being made at Haverthwaite thanks to a grant from the Sir John Fisher Foundation and with support from conservation charity Rusland Horizons and the Lake District National Park Authority.

Jennie Dennett from the Ulverston Lantern Festival committee said: "It's always exciting to have some really big, spectacular lanterns but it's been hard to achieve that since Lanternhouse became unavailable as there are so few places to build them.

"The park authority has a base at what was the depot for Lecks so they've got the perfect space - a big bus garage. We're extremely thankful to them for letting us use it.

"They've also got countryside skills apprentices who've had the chance to try their hand at lantern-making, seeing new ways to weave and shape young wood."

Ms Dennett added: "We're very grateful to the Sir John Fisher Foundation which is funding this project and enabling us to bring-in Hannah and Duncan to work with us, inspiring some new lantern-makers and creating a mighty lantern for us all to enjoy."

The whale will be making its way down the A590 ready for the night thanks to help from Stollers Furniture World in Barrow.

"It looked for a while like this whale might get stranded again as we couldn't find a big-enough truck," said Ms Dennett. "Happily Stollers are saving the whale and, practised as they are at manoeuvring giant sofas, they volunteered to get her on the move."

An ocean-load of creativity will be on parade in Ulverston on Saturday from 7.30pm for the 35th annual Lantern Festival as hundreds of lantern makers show off work before an anticipated audience of 8,000 spectators. Among the larger lanterns will again be another huge piece from the 2nd Ulverston Scouts which, in keeping with festival tradition, is a closely guarded secret until the night.

Four processions will lead into the town and converge on County Square at around 8.30pm before a firework-filled finale back on Ford Park. For full details, see ulverstonlanternfestival.org