As part of an amazing day yesterday, a group of mayors and their consorts and other invited guests, including Lord and Lady Derek Foster and MP Helen Goodman, attended a civic event – ‘Tea in the Park’ – at Hackworth Park in Shildon. We had tea in the Rest House provided by a wonderful local firm, and listened to the Durham Constabulary Brass Band performing in the band stand in the park, which looked at its stunning best. Afterwards we all decamped to Locomotion for individual explorations of the site and visits to the Flying Scotsman. I might have known though – Anthony Coulls and Locomotion manager Gary Campbell ambushed us and gave us the guided tour and access to the Flying Scotsman in all her glory. I cannot thank everyone at both the Town Council and Locomotion for helping me to show Shildon off at her very best and making this such a wonderful day for everyone.
The world’s most famous train is back in Shildon and she has brought her friends. There is something for everyone of all ages – but please remember that there is no parking on site except for blue badge holders and people who book and pay in advance. Please don’t forget you can get a free bus from the Timothy Hackworth (far) end of the Locomotion site and visit the town to join the celebrations there which are taking place from 10.00 – 4.00 today. There’s a brass band in Hackworth Park (2.00 – 4.00) and events in the Town Square, the library, Shildon AFC and St John’s Church.
Henry Nicholson is a governor at Thornhill as well as my fellow county and town councillor in Shildon. We visited the school as we were able to use some of our funding as county councillors to support the annual Thornhill visit to Patterdale in the Lake District. The pupils clearly had a tremendous and valuable experience participating in amongst other activities, kayaking, climbing, abseiling and gorge walking. They told us that they enjoyed everything, but the gorge walking was the best! As a former teacher and Gold Duke of Edinburgh leader, I know just how valuable outdoor education is for building confidence, self-esteem and resilience. Incidentally, pupils at the school made the banner themselves. Isn’t it beautiful!
Spent a lovely morning at the Civic meeting the children from Timothy Hackworth School who had come down to take part in a poetry workshop on the theme of a ‘Secret Garden’ as a follow up to time spent earlier creating the gardens you can see in the photos. Unfortunately, St John’s couldn’t make it due to a sudden thunderstorm. The project was led by the art department at Sunnydale, and I am sure it means that the transition to secondary school will be much easier for these children as a result.
The children were able to view the outstanding art work on display which represents a small part of the examination pieces completed by students at Greenfield School for their Art GCSE. They and their teacher should be truly proud of what they have achieved. The work on display was mostly completed by students based at the Sunnydale campus. My sincere congratulations go to Laura and her students. Some of the photographs were absolutely stunning.
What a beautiful morning to reopen our renovated Town Square. We were delighted that Deputy Chair of County Durham, Mike Dixon, and his wife Mary, came to Shildon to cut the red ribbon and declare it open once more. The County Council have pulled out all the stops to complete the work on time and we are very grateful to them. In attendance were County Councillors Henry Nicholson and Brian Stephens and myself, as well as the leader of the Town Council, Allan Walker. A big ‘thank you’ goes to Harry, who presented flowers to Mary and did a stint of watering. It is wonderful to be able to see the statue of Timothy Hackworth clearly as he is no longer overshadowed by the canopy that until recently made it almost impossible to see him.
People in Eldon have been having a hard time with speeding traffic down at the cross roads so they asked us for help to get some new road markings and a flashing speed sign to try and slow the traffic down. I know how bad it is as I was leaving the community centre myself and nearly got wiped out by a Jaguar that came haring down from Close House and didn’t even attempt to stop. I had to use my emergency stopping skills which I can now happily tell you are still working!!! Otherwise, John and I wouldn’t be here today. Henry and I were delighted to use £2000 of our councillors’ budget to pay for the flashing sign and to have it installed. Well done to Diane and everyone on the Eldon Parish Council for sorting this out!!!
I’ve been to Ypres and the Somme several times, but each time I go I find the visit equally intense and emotional as I think about the ultimate sacrifice made by so many young men (and some not so young) so that we might have the freedoms we enjoy today. My own paternal grandfather was gassed on the Western Front and a great uncle died at sea during the war. My other grandfather died in the Second World War and my dad served in the RAF. So it was a great honour to represent Shildon as mayor on Friday morning at the ceremony at the DLI Chapel in Durham Cathedral that took place before the British Legion Bikers set off on their 750 mile pilgrimage. I couldn’t take part in the ride as I hoped due to a chest infection, but I represented Shildon at the Requiem Mass on Saturday at the cathedral, accompanied by Councillor Henry Nicholson as consort. I laid a small cross in the DLI Chapel on behalf of the people of Shildon, in remembrance of all who died, including our own Private William Ewebank, who died of shrapnel wounds just prior to the battle on June 22nd. William was only 20, and had worked at the LNER depot as an oiler. May he and all his comrades rest in peace. They would have been so proud to know that 20 young people from Greenfield School (10 from the Sunnydale Campus) represented County Durham at the ceremony that took place at Thiepval in the presence of members of the royal family on July 1st and to know that they have not been forgotten.
What a smashing evening we had at the Excel Centre in Newton Aycliffe. Twenty schools from County Durham took part in a project run through Business Durham (Durham County Council) to encourage entrepreneurship and an understanding of business in young people in Year 8 – so they are only 13 or 14. The range of challenges they met over a year were really demanding – they worked with local companies to meet them. The winning product was a docking station for wheely bins – a really great idea to meet a real world problem. (Don’t I know this as a town and county councillor!!!) The overall winner was Durham Johnston. But every single participant was a winner – it took real commitment to see the whole project through. You can see the overall winners with Chair of County Durham, Eddie Bell, (left picture) and the school that came third with Neil Foster, cabinet member for RED. Big thank you to Business Durham, the companies that supported the students and the teachers who mentored their students. As a recently retired teacher, I know just how proud the teachers were!!