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Scouting for Girls, and Jenny too.

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South Tyneside Festival now in full swing

I found it difficult to hide a little disappointment that South Shields would not see any of The Mouth of the Tyne Festival this year, the Saturday night parade has become a luminary and pyrotechnic spectacle that we all much looked forward to, and the varied entertainment on the Sunday was also a great “crowd magnet”. However, times are hard, cash is tight, wee have to cut our cloth, yet still we can manage to bring thousands of smiles to faces in South Tyneside as our Summer Festival adapts to the changes as today’s free concert in South Shields’ Bents Park provided some attractive and stirring competition to the street walkabout acts in Tynemouth. I missed last Saturday’s opening parade because of work commitments but there was no way that I would be missing today’s event as local girl Jenny Stevens and her band The Hiccups stepped up another notch to play to probably the largest crowd they’ve ever played to.

The South Shields based four piece now have a more rounded sound and style with some heavier riffs and beats  to accompany the melody created in Jen’s self penned songs, Jenny has been a member of the Curly’s Corner Shop Message Board and a Twitter user for some time now, so many of us were delighted to be able to enjoy her warm up act which was a very decent set played to a demographic which perhaps was not her usual “market” (lets be fair most buyers of the band’s CDs are a little bit older than the average Scouting for Girls fan), she has also done a great deal of self marketing and promotion through the use of social networking sites so there really were no excuses for local music lovers NOT to know that she’d be playing today. The set included a great selection from the first album Meg’s Hill and the new album Better Frame of Mind. If you don’t know the music of Jen Stevens and the Hiccups watch this video for a taster:

Thankfully the weather stayed dry, a mixture of cool clouds and breezes interspersed with some warm sunshine, it certainly helped in getting the crowds out and I’d not be far wrong in guessing that perhaps 18000 packed the Bents Park, almost as many as attended the Joe McCelderry coming home concert last year. The giant screen first introduced at the Bents Park last year was in use again and very much appreciated by those families at the back, whilst at the front of the stage thousands of young boys and girls recreated a version of a “mosh pit” revelling in seeing their faces caught by the cameras. Unfortunately it made my job of taking pictures that much more difficult with a camera rostrum erected right in front of the centre of the stage, shooting over the heads of thousands of youngsters is difficult enough without other obstructions, I think I’ll take along my own step ladders next time 🙂

Next up were the headline act Scouting for Girls whose debut self titled album went to No. 1 in the charts in 2007, the next album Everybody Wants t be on TV reached No. 2 in the charts and gave them a No. 1 hit single in 2010. They are a three piece band from London with a huge fan base in the mid to late teens group who were very vocal today. Not exactly my taste in music, but hey if they draw a crowd into South Shields for the right reasons then that’s fine by me, they sound a bit too much like the Gary Barlow Take That genre. Anyway here’s the one that had them all jumping!

All in all a great afternoon, pretty busy, lots of cash being spent and lots of visitors in town. South Shields and South Tyneside can be happy that the Summer Festival is definitely in full swing, next Sunday we have former X Factor winner Matt Cardle in the Bents Park, sure to be another big draw!

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Written by curly

July 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm

South Shields? It’s like Ibiza!

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Beach party, South Shields

End of school party

Is there more we can do?

South Shields is such a great place when the weather is warm and sunny, it is a magnet for visitors and tourists as I found out yesterday. I’d only intended picking up a few pictures of the pier and the beach for South Shields Daily Pictures when I bumped into this crowd behind the skateboard park on Sandhaven beach you could easily imagine that you were at a beach party in Ibiza! The sands were busy, as were the parks, and  funfair,  people of all ages just having fun in the sun.

This group were attracting a lot of attention purely because of their numbers, I’d estimate that there were about 130 of them in total, all aged around 16 or 17, they were a little bit noisy but not to the extent that they were annoying anyone else, some were drinking alcohol (just as we did at their age) but they certainly weren’t drunk at 5:00 p.m., they had no music with them but made up for it with their own singing and dancing. In fact I thought they’d been deliberately brought down here as some form of free entertainment. It turned out that they were all from the Gateshead area, many from the St. Thomas Moore school and were celebrating the end of their school time, they are now just hanging around waiting for exam results or college/job offers, so they got together on Facebook and travelled down to South Shields on the Metro to enjoy our beaches. A similar but more “organised” rave had been advertised on Facebook to take place in Tynemouth, but it was not this group.

I also found a group of elderly visitors who were staying in Jesmond, they were from Guildford in Surrey and they too had taken the Metro to see what we had to offer, they didn’t mind the kids at all but were very critical of the “Americanisation” of the end of school life with the introduction of horrendously expensive “proms” in the UK, arguing that some parents were spending almost as much om a prom night as they might for a daughter’s wedding! Curiously these four southerners were very surprised at all of the green open spaces, they revelled at the South Marine Park, they could see the Leas but thought they were a little too far away to walk, they had this horribly preconceived idea that South Shields was a dirty industrialised place, but had come along at the recommendation of the hotelier in Newcastle. Needless to say, once they were informed of our summer activities they are planning to return!

I couldn’t help thinking about the missed selling opportunities, if you were in Ibiza or some Mediterranean beach resort you would find lots of stalls and vendors along the sea front area, you might be offered cheap watches, jewellery, chilled drinks, chilled fresh fruit, beach clothing, surf boards, skateboards, sandwiches, toys, souvenirs etc. There is very little of these activities along our beaches in South Shields, apart from a few outlets in the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park. We have a lot of spare capacity in our Market stalls and I just wonder if there may be a demand on an ad-hoc basis to hire a stall to set up on the promenade behind Sea Road to sell wares to our visitors. I cannot help feeling that we don’t allow sufficient ice cream/chips/hot dog/drinks vendors to bring their vans down to the promenade for a small fee.

This is a seaside town we need to create the seaside “theatre”, visitors are transitory and we need to really strike out to reach them if we want them to keep returning.

Even the kids in the picture above have money to spend, they probably spent up to ÂŁ25 each on their day out at the seaside, that’s around ÂŁ3000 worth of trade, this is what secures jobs and livelihoods. Where is the entrepreneurial drive of South Tyneside businesses and retailers?

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Written by curly

May 26, 2012 at 10:40 am

Back at last!

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Curly's desktops

So, just what have I been up to?

Well, TWO new computers, both in the same case!

It has taken a while, but the hardware on the old Windows XP machine was deteriorating and could only have bits and pieces replaced so often, the operating system was outdated and not capable of keeping pace with the latest developments. So now I have a dual boot machine, i.e. when I switch it on it gives me a choice, do I wish to fire up Windows 7 Ultimate, or Linux Ubuntu 12? I’ve used the Windows machine to set up my home wireless networking solutions streaming content out and sharing files and folders between this desktop, a laptop, a Blackberry, a PS3, and a Nintedo, everyone is happy on that score! I also use it to edit my photographs, because Photoshop is simply the best. However, what has kept me away from here for so long is my determination to learn how to do things in Linux, how to code, work in the command line and “Terminal”, it is challenging and fun, and seriously I cannot get enough of it.

I wanted to rise to the challenge of running my home computing on a machine using only software that is commonly shared and legitimately free, and as you can see from the picture of my two different desktops above, I have even managed to get the thing to look and behave just like a megabucks Mac!

I am determined to learn how to use the Gimp image editing software, it may never be as good as Photoshop, but I’m pretty sure I can make it produce good pictures, the example above shows that I have a long way to go.

So I’m ready to be back in the saddle to ride this vehicle wherever we want to go, political interests have had to take a back seat for a few weeks, the hunger for knowledge has been winning the battle.

I’ll start tomorrow with a little piece on the local elections here in South Tyneside to get the ball rolling again – remember to go and use your vote, you really have no right at all to complain if you fail to mark a cross.

Written by curly

May 2, 2012 at 8:38 pm

This blog is about to change (for the worse)

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Image hosting company changes policy

For seven years I have used to host the vast majority of images on this site. Back when I started WordPress had a 50Mb limit on media uploads which was going to be nowhere large enough to cope with what I had planned for here and South Shields Daily Photos, the natural step to take back then was to use a free image hosting service to embed the images in my various sites. ImageShack offered free hosting for EVER, and they supported their operation by getting advertising revenue for the ads placed next to my images when linked to their site, and I guess they must have done fairly nicely as they had millions of free users. Over the years quite a number of my images disappeared after problems with their various servers, but not so many as to spoil these sites, however now they have introduced a new policy of restricting uploads to just 500 images, any thing beyond this will be automatically deleted unless a paid for hosting is accepted by 1st. March.

I currently have almost 2000 images hosted by them, they amount to less than 160 Mb of storage, yet they continue to allow users to upload images of up to 5 Mb each, in other words someone with 500 images of this file size will occupy 2.4  Gb of storage space, and they expect me to pay for storing compressed for web low resolution poor quality images? I think not!

This new policy is not being well received.

I have downloaded all of my images from their servers and hope that they might relent for registered users, this is from their FAQs page:

  • How long will my uploaded files be available?

    Your files will only be deleted if they do not adhere to our Terms of Service. If you are registered, your files will be available forever. If you are not registered, any file that you upload will continue to be available if it is accessed by anyone at least once per year.

  • How much bandwidth can I use?

    ImageShack allows unlimited bandwidth for images, videos, and slideshows when viewed from our landing page, as well as unlimited bandwidth for registered users ImageShack may at any time enforce its policies on bandwidth if an image is in violation of our Terms of Service, for instance, if it is abusive or used to spam.

As a registered user I wait with baited breath to see if they will adhere to this promise, but I don’t feel confident.

There are plenty of other free image hosting services out there, and WordPress now offer a decent amount of storage these days, so the loss of ImageShack will be no skin off my nose, but what will it mean for this blog, and my others?

If they carry out their pledge to delete all images beyond the most recent 500 then a huge amount of posts in here will end up looking messy, and in some cases irrelevant particularly if the image was of major importance in illustrating a point. South Shields Daily Photos would have to be closed down and deleted – what good is a photoblog without photos? It also means that many images embedded in forums and message boards over the years will disappear too. I now have the pictures back on my hard drive but it would take me about twelve months to re-write all of the image links if I had the time to do it, and to be honest I don’t.

So, if the worst comes to the worst on 2nd. March, expect to see many of my posts which I made more than two years ago lose their images, and one photoblog disappear from the internet, and that will be a shame for those who still continue to interact with it and leave comments.

My apologies, it is something beyond my control considering I won’t be bullied into paying for hosting low res. web images.

If things end up really really bad and looking really really awful, I may take the decision to close this place and start afresh.

Let me know what you think.


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Written by curly

February 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Blowing your own trumpet……….

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Cllr. Jimmy Foreman, South Tyneside

…….or even a saxaphone Jimmy?

Funny what the internet throws at you from time to time.

As South Tyneside councillors start to avail themselves of every possible photo opportunity before the elections in May, with nightly appearances in The Shields Gazette, and newletters littering your doormats, I find a one without a fistful of dominoes and not a dinner lady in sight! Does Labour’s Jimmy Foreman have a hidden talent that he was trying to keep secret?

Original photo courtesy of my mate Grouser.

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Written by curly

February 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Kung Hey Fat Choi!

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Tied up by Chinese New Year

I spent most of yesterday in Newcastle Upon Tyne with my daughter taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Chinese New Year celebrations in the Stowell Street area. It is something that she particularly enjoys, so she brought a friend along to share the experience. They are still at the sort of age where they cannot understand why there are so few Chinese restaurants in South Shields and so many up the river in Newcastle!

Anyway, I came home with around 150 pictures in my camera, so the processing of them will probably tie me up for a few days, but the first few are ready for posting in South Shields Daily Pictures from tomorrow.

I do have a couple of posts to follow about South Tyneside Council and South Shields’ MP David Miliband, stay tuned.


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Written by curly

January 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm

2012 predictions

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Welcome back my friends.

First a bit of music to cheer you all up, and may I extend a big welcome to you all as we begin a New Year in South Tyneside’s first and oldest political blog, I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that it brings some sort of cheer to you. I cannot promise that output from this desk will be any more frequent this year than it was last, a new lifestyle here leaves me a bit less time to write and my passion for photography at South Shields Daily Pictures also competes for my online time. However, with a long drum roll let’s get started with things for 2012.

National and international predictions

Financial and political pressure within the EU continue to build as a realistic solution to the Eurozone crisis fails to materialise, as referendums in Greece and Ireland  initially reject further austerity measures relating to the latest bail out plans. Calls to remove these countries from the Eurozone are thwarted as both nations are forced to hold a second vote which confirms their compliance with the Commission’s wishes. Massive unrest on the streets of Athens leads, for the first time, to a pan European peacekeeping force being deployed in Greece to keep its citizens under control.

David Cameron decides that Britain will not contribute any personnel to the new force, and further reduces Britain’s contribution to the IMF, stating that our financial problems require us to keep more of our finances at home. Nick Clegg threatens to pull the Lib-Dems out of the coalition in protest at the Conservatives outright hostility to the new EU plans designed to bring stability to the markets, however because of Labour’s weak position under Ed Miliband a combination of Tory and rebellious Labour MPs win the day in a Confidence debate in the House of Commons, thus tying the Lib-Dems into the coalition. Rebel Labour MPs claim this was the best way to ensure the total demise of Lib- Dem MPs at the next general election whilst buying more time for Labour to reorganise.

In America President Obama wins a second term, although very narrowly, after providing logistical and intelligence support to Israel when they successfully bombed a number of Iranian nuclear facilities the week before President Ahmedinijad was expected to announce the testing of his country’s first nuclear weapon.

In Russia Vladimir Putin is elected to lead the nation again, but there are strong doubts about the integrity of the elections, massive unrest in Russian cities is dealt with firmly and harshly, and following warmer than normal friendly talks with neighbouring states regarding trade agreements and energy supplies, observers begin fearing for the independence of the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) as nationalist parties there see a massive rise in popularity after the EU’s enforced austerity measures spark riots.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announces a new treaty with Iran, promising to help them rebuild the facilities destroyed by the Israelis. Increased  defence spending in the secretive far eastern state has resulted in a larger American military presence in Australia’s Northern Territory and the permanent patrol of a full battle ready US fleet in international waters close to the Korean peninsular.

China continues to be the world’s leading economy but still shows little appetite for increasing it’s spending on imports, preferring instead to produce good quality copies of foreign article for home consumption, Obama’s pleas for relaxations in China’s trade policies fall on deaf ears.

Local predictions.

The case in San Mateo County Court in California involving three South Tyneside councillors and an officer rumbles on seemingly interminably with no prospect of either a firm result and conclusion, or a commencement of proceedings in a British court. The costs of the matter are used as a political weapon during the local government elections in May.

Fifteen South Shields boys and girls attend the X Factor auditions in Newcastle but not a single one makes any progress, meanwhile late in the year Little Mix release an album to mixed reviews which does well in the charts but does not reach No. 1, fans had a liking for the new material but complained that five covers in the album were probably too many. As the year closes Little Mix prepare for their second UK headlining tour. Meanwhile Joe McElderry had released an album firmly in the dance genre after expressing disappointment over the sales of his Christmas Classics collection of cover songs, he also decided to accept the offer of a part in a West End musical and will be appearing in panto at the end of the year at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.

South Tyneside’s jobless figures continue to rise although not at the massive rate that some had feared, local employment prospects are boosted by the announcement from Nissan of their decision to build a further two new models at their massive plant in Washington.

In the local elections in May Labour takes an absolute stranglehold on local politics as virtually all opposition in South Tyneside is wiped off the map. Cllr Geraldine White loses her seat to Labour in Fellgate and Hedworth, Lawrence Nolan fails to hold Harton for the Progressives after the retirement of Jimmy Capstick, the Liberal Democrats disappear as Joe Abbot loses to Labour in Hebburn North, Labour regain Horsely Hill in a close contest as Independent Alliance councillor Gordon Finch loses his seat, in Monkton John Hodgson somehow manages to fend off Labour’s challenge with only a handful of votes to spare, Labour make it three in a row in West Park as Enid Hetherington ends the Progressive Association’s long tenure there, Labour pick up Westoe at the expense of Allen Branley, and further legal challenges ensue after Ahmed Khan narrowly loses the decision against Labour’s John Anglin in the Beacon and Bents ward of South Shields.

Labour’s only other failure on a remarkable night was in Cleadon Village and East Boldon, where Conservative Councillor Jeff Milburn retained his seat with a much  reduced majority.

Following further shop closures in King Street, South Shields, South Tyneside Council announced an updated plan for a shoppers car parking scheme which gave two hours of free town centre parking, charges would only be applied after two hours and could be refunded if shoppers were spending more than ÂŁ5 with local “partner” businesses. In a further sign of Labour’s pragmatic approach to working with the coalition government council Leader Iain Malcolm announced his intention of shaving an additional ÂŁ45m from South Tyneside’s spending as he intended to announce a first ever reduction in council taxes to help local people rebuild their economy by putting money back into their own pockets to spend.

On the sporting scene, South Shields Mariners are in disarray after the sale of Filtrona Park , a late season slide in form saw them narrowly avoid relegation and their future is now in serious doubt as new houses are about to be built on their former ground. Until they find a new home their existence in the Northern League cannot be guaranteed.

In the Premier League Mike Ashley showed no inclination to spend on Newcastle United during the January window, as once again he discussed the possibility of selling the club at the end of the season. The Magpies strong start to the campaign was cancelled out when striker Demba Ba suffered a serious injury, this coupled with the sales of Tiote and Krul meant that Pardew’s men had a late season loss of form which saw them end the campaign in 15th. place.

Rivals  Sunderland were boosted by the surprise arrival of a top name striker and a full back which pleased the red and white half of South Shields. Meanwhile Ryan Noble’s emergence as a Premier League threat helped Martin O’Neill cement his status as a “legend” as the team went on a strong run towards the end of the season finishing above the Magpies in 9th. place. Owner Ellis Short announced that further funds would be made available to the Irishman for the summer transfer window, once again Sunderland are considering the possibility of extending the capacity at The Stadium of Light.

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South Shields remembers her fallen.

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Remembrance Sunday in South Tyneside

As Her Majesty the Queen led the nation’s tributes by paying respect to our fallen heroes at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, here in South Tyneside a number of remembrance events took place around the borough coinciding with the televised event in London. Services were held in South Shields, Jarrow, Hebburn, Cleadon Village, Whitburn Village and East Boldon where parades and wreath laying ceremonies took place. As a “Shieldsman” I was remarking with friends yesterday evening how much the popularity and feeling for our armed services has increased steadily over recent years, and this shows itself in the numbers who now attend the ceremony at Westoe Cenotaph. The recent long running conflicts in Afghanistan, and to a lesser extent Libya, have reinforced in our minds the professionalism, dedication, and ultimate sacrifice given by our armed services and we welcome this opportunity to show our respect and homage to those who never made it home.

It was a dull misty and damp morning in South Shields as the parade assembled behind the Town Hall in Westoe Road, the moisture shrouded the clock tower of the proud old building and muffled the sound of the tolling bell of St. Bede’s church, as the clock chimed at 10:30 the parade commenced led by the Harton and Westoe Brass Band to make its way up the hill of Westoe Road to the Cenotaph. The salute was taken by Deputy Mayor Cllr. Eileen Leask and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, hundreds of participants representing the armed services, veterans organisations, the Royal British Legion, and youth organisations filed past watched by an expectant crowd. Once at Westoe they were met by the Revd. Paul Kennedy, Vicar of St. Michael and All the Angels, and Father Michael Wemyss of St. Bede’s parish church who jointly conducted the ceremony. Huge crowds had gathered unperturbed by the damp chill weather to participate in a respectful two minutes silence at 11:00 am preceding a short service and the wreath laying ceremony.

Leading the tributes on behalf of the Borough of South Tyneside were Deputy Mayor Eileen Leask, Council Leader Iain Malcolm, and Chief Executive Martin Swales. Wreaths representing all sections of our community were laid and it was heart warming to see one gentleman still marching to this event and taking part on behalf of his buddies at the ripe young age of 91. As you look through these dull and greyish pictures, spare a thought for the younger generation, there were many of them there this morning, brownies, scouts, Air Training Corps, Army Cadets, T. S. Collingwood, Royal Marine Cadets, Boys Brigade and schools. They have a hunger for knowledge about our past, and many of them are now coming into contact with families who may recently have lost a loved in in conflict, or seen a relative return home bearing injuries. Remembrance Sunday is no longer just about the Great War of 1914 -18 and the Second World War, it has transcended those two dreadful conflagrations and strengthened its meaning to new generations of participants, which I hope you may discover through some of the pictures showing above.

In a week which has seen a departure from the normal political unity at this time of year, we learn that some 2000 British army personnel will remain in Afghanistan for up to 20 years training commanders of the Afghan National Army to British standards, whilst at the same time our government intends to carry on paring back the numbers of personnel who we depend upon to defend our interests. The spat between Conservatives and Labour sadly sounds a sour note when our attention ought to be firmly focussed on the welfare of armed service personnel when they are returned to civilian life, or are returned to the UK seriously injured, it is often heard that as a nation we do not treat our veterans as well as we might.

Also sadly noted, once again, was the almost total lack of opposition councillors within the civic party at Westoe, although one was seen popping into the corner shop before the parade arrived. Has Remembrance Sunday suddenly become party political or what? I know that at least one Conservative councillor was on duty today, but really……… where were the South Shields non Labour councillors as the rest of the community did its duty?

On a lighter note, you will see some leather clad lads and lasses in the pictures, your first thoughts may be that they are troublesome, or the celebrity chefs “Hairy Bikers” , in fact they are members of the Badlander’s Motorcycle Club who regularly meet in South Shields. Many of them are also members of the Royal British Legion Riders Section and they have, jointly with local Hells Angels, raised thousands of pounds in recent years for charities such as “Help the Heroes”.  Don’t be afraid to approach them at next year’s event or at their Armed Forces charity fund raiser at the Bents Park, they are a cheerful friendly bunch and a great laugh!

You cannot judge a book by its cover!

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Written by curly

November 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Acts of remembrance

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South Tyneside commences weekend of quiet contemplation

It was 93 years ago today that the guns on the Western Front fell silent at the end of the Great War at 11:00, it was supposed to be a war that ended all wars, sadly we were only entering another century littered with conflicts around the globe. There was no real lasting piece after the First World War which sowed the seeds of further nationalist ambitions which led to a more damaging global war only 25 years later, and since then despite the formation of the United Nations mankind has seen to it that regional conflicts continued, and continued to involve British personnel right up to the present day. The signing of the Armistice with the German  delegation in Foch’s private carriage in the forest of Compiegne should have been the signal that war was a futile measure in settling political and national tensions, however the very same train later carried Hitler and his coterie through the Clairiere to demand the surrender of the French in 1940.

Today in South Tyneside we began to reflect on history, and its effect on generations of Geordies who answered the call to serve their country. Shops and offices fell silent for two minutes, motorists in some cases stopped their cars to observe this tradition of ours, schoolchildren involved themselves taking avail of the opportunity to learn from older relatives and neighbours. One of the interesting things that they came to appreciate is that wars are not only fought by professional and conscripted soldiers, sailors, and airmen, they are also fought by factory workers, nurses and doctors, carpenters, welders, ambulance drivers, and a whole host of others. Included amongst them will be merchant seamen who in time of conflict have provided the lifeline which kept Britain alive, kept us fed, kept us armed, and unfortunately kept our foes busy. South Shields has a long maritime association, not only did we build and repair ships, we also provided the men who operated them, we lost them too in large numbers. As a seafaring community we are always wary and respectful of the seas and oceans, they hold dangers of their own, however these dangers were magnified many times over in times of war as countless flotillas and convoys brought sustenance from across the Atlantic and provided much needed help and support to the Russian war effort during the second global conflagration. Even in more recent conflicts we have called upon our merchant navy to help support our armed services and put themselves at increased risk of loss of life, the Falklands War was a major illustration when ships taken up from the trade, and others, received heavy damage at the hands of Argentinian Super Etendards.

The recent troubled history of the Missions to Seamen and the Flying Angel Club at the Mill Dam in South Shields highlighted just how strongly we all felt attached to the men and women of the seas, yet it takes troubled times to spark our fervour in supporting them, but at times such as today we mark our respect for their efforts and sacrifices over the last 70 years and more, we pay tribute to those brave souls consumed by the tempestuous waters as they did their duty, remembering them with as much pride and honour as those in the uniformed services. They served as well as any, and served so that South Tyneside can enjoy the tolerance and freedom that would not be ours if we had lost that titanic struggle against Nazi Germany.

Although the memorial to our merchant seamen is relatively young, we are now building up a strong presence as we gather around it on Armistice day every year, crowds and participation grows, and I wonder if some day it might equal and accompany the Remembrance Sunday service that we have at Westoe Cenotaph. Today we held a service of remembrance and laid poppy wreaths at the memorial in the Mill Dam, the service was conducted by the Revd. Andrew Bealing who has had long and close connections with the Mission to Seamen (Seafarers), we saw the Royal British Legion honouring the dead of the non uniformed servants of the UK, old soldiers be-medalled steadfast and straight paying homage to lost comrades, we saw possibly the last members of the Russian Convoy Club in their white berets, we saw the Deputy Mayor Cllr. Eileen Leask and the Deputy Mayoress Cllr. Olive Punchion laying wreaths on behalf of the borough, I saw former councillors and colleagues, but most importantly I saw children.  By bringing school children to these events we once more plant seeds of hope that they will not be standing in their old age on a cold damp November morning, planting a wooden cross honouring the memory of one of their friends.

We must continue to carry that hope in our prayers.

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Written by curly

November 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Capstick, Freedom of the Borough – picture special

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Cllr. Jimmy Capstick, South Tyneside

Memorable day for South Tyneside veteran councillor

Yesterday in South Shields Town Hall Cllr. Jimmy Capstick accepted the honour of being installed as a Freeman of the Borough of South Tyneside in a ceremony attended by hundreds of friends, family, ex-councillors and well wishers. It was a very special day for Jimmy, the longest serving councillor in South Tyneside, and one which will have filled him with happiness and pride, however as everyone was assembled in the council chamber it fell to Chief Executive Martin Swales to announce that Jimmy was not there! He’d been rushed into hospital earlier in the day but had bravely discharged himself  and was making his way to South Shields by taxi in order to attend, once again displaying his great sense of duty and commitment in the most selfless manner, he was determined not to spoil the day for everyone else! Sadly it meant that Jimmy missed the chance to fully participate in the lunch and civic reception afterwards as he quickly returned home, possibly on doctors’ orders.

It was great to see and meet up with former friends and colleagues as well as unexpectedly bumping into one of Mrs. Curly’s relatives, and I’m also very grateful to Mayor Cllr. Jim Sewell for giving me special dispensation to record some of the moments of the ceremony and reception to bring to you today. Rather than writing a long post on the event here are just some bullet points that help to inform you about the pictures and some of the other moments of memory.

  • Great to see George Wilkinson, Stan Smith, Steve Mannion, and Ken Hickman – familiar faces in familiar seats, Stan looks as though he is back to good health.
  • Wonderful to converse with Jean Alderson, widow of the former high ranking council officer Reevel Alderson.
  • Good to see so many people from St. Peter’s church in Harton.
  • Cllr. George Elsom is now sporting a healthy growth of hair on his upper lip to help raise awareness and money for a prostate cancer charity – big ups George!
  • Happy to photograph members of Jimmy Capstick’s family and record their pride and joy.
  • George Wilkinson has unearthed a little gem in his family photos, I hope to bring it to you shortly.
  • Cllr. Capstick, despite his failing health, got through his acceptance speech with grace, humility, and lots of his familiar humour.
  • Cllr. Enid Hetherington spoke on behalf of the Progressive Association.
  • Cllr. Steve Harrison spoke on behalf of the official opposition.
  • Big respect to Cllr. Iain Malcolm Labour’s leader in South Tyneside for being a “big politician” and honouring his opponent in such a public and memorable manner.
  • Disappointment at the absence of quite a few of our councillors (perhaps they had work or other commitments).
  • The meal was simple chicken, potatoes, and vegetables, nobody could accuse the council of lavish spending in tough times.
  • People of all political persuasions were genuinely happy and pleased to be with Cllr. Capstick and his family, 45 years service as a councillor deserves some respect and recognition.
  • Bit of a pity that I couldn’t spend a few moments with Jimmy but it was understandable given the circumstances.
  • Good to see former Labour councillor Tom Bamford enjoying his retirement and in excellent spirits.
  • The giant screen in the main reception room looked like “This is your Life” – nice touch.
  • Great to see the public gallery heaving packed, the overspill watched a live video stream in the ante room.
  • Great to have participation from a representative of the “Hello Club” from our German twin town Wuppertal.
  • Many thanks to Val and Dorothy for being so helpful and doing what they do best, they really are treasures.
  • Jimmy is the only serving South Tyneside councillor to have been honoured in this way.

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