Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Week Commencing 14 August 2017

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Attended the Commemorative Service for Sergeant Edward Cooper VC at Teesside Golf Club, Acklam Road and Cenotaph, Thornaby


Edward Cooper VC – Thornaby Cenotaph



Memorial Stone – Edward Cooper VC

Attended the Commemorative Service to honour the heroic actions of Sergeant Edward Cooper in the First World War at the Thornaby Cenotaph on Acklam Road, Thornaby.

The Service was conducted by Father Richard Brown who welcomed all to the service then read the VC citation. The Order of Service began with Opening Prayers, and then a reflection on Edward Coopers Life was read out by Gillian Birchill, Edwards Granddaughter.

The Reading, John 15.12-17, was delivered by Philip Birchill, Edwards Great Grandson. We sang the hymn Abide With Me, followed by The Dedication of the Memorial Stone. The Stone was then unveiled by The Vice Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Major Peter Scrope, and Ted Cooper, Edwards Grandson. Major Peter Scrope gave a few words on Edward Coopers brave actions during his life in the trenches of World War One, followed by prayers by Father Brown and blessed the Dedication Stone with Holy Water.

Following the Dedication, wreathes were laid by Civic guests, family, Green Howard Association and Councillors. This was followed by The Act of Remembrance and The Last Post Reveille. The Poem In Flanders Field was read out by Neil Cooper, Edwards Great Grandson, after which the Lords Prayer was said by all.

There was a pledge for peace and welfare of all nations during The Act of Commitment, followed by the National Anthem and The Blessing as the final act of the service. 

Sergeant Edward Cooper VC. 1896 – 1985.

Known as Ed, was born on 4 May 1896 in Portrack, Stockton, was part of a large family, having two brothers and six sisters. After lying about his age he eventually enlisted into the Kings Royal Rifle Corps and fought in the 12th Battalion where he earned his place in military history.

Edward fought at the battle of Langemark, part of the Third Battle of Ypres, commonly known as Passchendaele. During the battle, at the age of twenty-one, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroic actions.

After the war he returned to Stockton and married Iris and settled down in Thornaby, with whom they had three sons, then returned to work at the Co- operative Society and became a manager. During the Second World War, Edward was commissioned to be a Major in charge of the Home Guard Unit in Thornaby.

Edward died in 1985 at the age of 89, shortly after he was made Honorary Freeman of Stockton Borough.

His Victoria Cross is on display in the Preston Hall Museum in Stockton.

It was an honour to be present at the Dedication Service of such a brave and heroic person to which I shall remember for the rest of my days.


Wednesday 16 August 2017

Attended the Service of Dedication of a Memorial Stone in Honour of Sergeant Edward Cooper VC at the Cenotaph, in High Street, Stockton on Tees


Service of Dedication to Sergeant Edward Cooper VC

After meeting up with other civic guests, Lord Lieutenant of Durham Sue Snowdon, family, and friends of Edward Cooper and Councillors we walked from the Town Hall to the Cenotaph at the Parish Church.

We attended the special event honouring one of the Borough most remarkable men, the late Sergeant Edward Cooper on the 100th anniversary of him being awarded the Victoria Cross.  The event was staged as part of the Government’s national commemoration of the Great War Centenary which includes plans to provide specifically designed commemorative paving stones for all those awarded the Victoria Cross.

undefined With the Lord Lieutenant of Durham Sue Snowden - unveiling the Memorial Stone.

The Order of Service was led by the Chaplain to the Durham Light Infantry Association, The Reverend Kenneth Crawford, in association with the Reverend Kenneth Harris of the United Reform Church. Rev Crawford welcomed everyone to the service and we sang the Hymn O God our help in ages past. A Reflection on Sergeant Coopers Life was delivered by Liz Bell, then the reading Psalm 121 was read by Rev Crawford.

After this The Dedication of the Memorial Stone was delivered, during which the Memorial Stone was unveiled by me and the Sue Snowden, Lord Lieutenant of Durham. Following the Dedication the Lord Lieutenant of Durham, Vice-Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, myself, military representatives, members of organisations, and Alison and Charlotte O’Connor representing Ed’s family laid wreaths at the Cenotaph.

After laying the wreaths the Act of Remembrance was delivered, followed by The Last Post and Reveille. Victoria Fordham read the poem ‘He is Gone’ by David Harking, then we all sang the hymn The Lord Is My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want, followed by prayers, delivered by Rev Harris and Marie Cooper. In The Act of Commitment we pledged ourselves that we may help, encourage and comfort others, then sang the hymn Abide With Me, Fast Falls the Eventide.

The Service of Dedication concluded with the Blessing and the National Anthem.

undefined Memorial Stone – Sergeant Edward Cooper VC

Edward Cooper VC won the Victoria Cross on 16 August 1917 at the bloody battle of Langemark, for the most conspicuous bravery and initiative in attack. Enemy machine guns from a concrete blockhouse, 250 yards away, were holding up the advance of the battalion on his left, and were also causing heavy casualties to his own battalion, Sgt Cooper, with four men, immediately rushed towards the blockhouse though heavily fired on. About 100 yards distant he ordered his men to lie down and fire. Finding this did not silence the machine guns, immediately he rushed forward straight at them and fired his revolver into an opening in the blockhouse. The machine guns ceased firing and the garrison surrendered. Seven machine guns and 45 prisoners were captured. By this magnificent act of courage he undoubtedly saved what might have been a serious check to the whole advance, at the same time saving a great number of lives.

Edward was presented with his medal by King George V, but was also in 1918 presented with Medaille Militaire, the highest award given by France to non-nationals for gallantry beyond the call of duty.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939, Edward was commissioned as a Major of the Home Guard at Thornaby. He was also involved in the United Reformed Church, and served as a magistrate as well as president of the Citizens Advise Bureau. At the age of 89 he became an Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Stockton on Tees.

It was a real privilege to have been present for the service to dedicate a memorial stone to honour one of the Borough’s most courageous men. It is only right that his memory is being commemorated in such a way befitting a war hero who sacrificed so much for his country.

It was great to meet members of Sergeant Coopers family and it was no surprise to see just how proud they are of him and everything that he achieved both in his military career and in his personal life.


Parish Church, Cenotaph – Wreathes laid in honour of Sgt Edward Cooper VC


Saturday 19 August 2017

Attended the Stockton River Rat Race at the Riverside Event, Stockton


At the off – Starting the Riverside Rat Race in the rain

It was a pleasure to attend and welcome the competitors to the 2017 Stockton’s Riverside Rat Race. We had the privilege to have some excellent world-class facilities along this lovely river, so that everyone could enjoy every part of the course and have a fantastic time. I must say they were a very brave and adventurous bunch of people to take on the difficult course.

Once everyone had a limbered and warmed up, the race was started, unfortunately as I blew the whistle it began to pour with rain adding another hazard to the course in front of them. 


Walking the plank on the Endeavour



It made a big splash when hitting the water

Approximately 1000 competitors took part in this urban adventure style event over 5km or 10km distances, taking a number of obstacles en route including walking the plank off the Bark Endeavour, kayaking, climbing under and over obstacles and dip in the white water course at the Barrage.

Residents and visitors were invited to come down to the Riverside to take in the action and cheer on the many people making their way around the challenging course, and once the rain had stopped and the sun came out, a great day was had by all.

The Riverside Rat Race is an extremely popular event with some people running for their charities and others just for the fun of it all. The feedback has been fantastic with most people who took part wanting to come back year after year. Along the Riverside was the events village where the spectators cheered on the competitors as well as enjoying refreshments and there was a bouncy castle and a climbing wall on offer to keep children entertained free of charge. 


The organiser was trying to convinces us to take part in the event, we had to refuse as the chains would have had an anchor effect during any water involvement 

I would like to thank everyone, especially the events team, for once again providing a great Stockton venue which was well supported, for spectators and competitors alike, who enjoyed this fun day that was eventually embraced with sunshine as an extra bonus.  

Saturday 19 August 2017

Attended the Farewell Gala and Closing Ceremony of the Billingham International  Folklore Festival at the Festival Arena, Town Centre Billingham


Hungary – ‘Csillagszemuek’ Dance Company

We attended the 53rd Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance, Farewell Gala and Closing Ceremony at the Festival Arena in Billingham Town Centre. It was a magical afternoon, although cold and windy it didn’t stop the groups from entertaining us with some superb song and dance routines throughout the day.

Dressed in their exquisite traditional dress it was a spectacular and welcoming sight. The crowds were enthralled by the carnival atmosphere which was much appreciated by all.  


New Zealand – Te Rerenga O Te Ra Kapa Haka Dance Company 



Egypt – Art Appreciation Folk Dance Troupe


Tahiti – Tamarii Tahina Culture Association Group


Taiwan – Taiwan Youth Dance Company



Chile – Ballet Folklorico Tupa Marka



Taiwan – Youth Dance Company


Ghana – Nkrabea Dance Ensemble.

We were entertained with song and dance by each group from Columbia, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Hungary, New Zealand, Philippines South Africa, Tahiti and UK. At the end of the performances it gave me great pleasure in presenting festival pennants to every group as a token of our appreciation.

Again another festival came to an end and we thanked all the participants and groups who had taken part in this prestigious occasion, what a wonderful view of the world at large through dance and music. The 53rd Billingham Folklore Festival has once again been superb and we thanked all the people who had put this event together, without them we would not have seen or heard such outstanding works. It is with thanks to Stockton Borough Council and Arts Council England for their invaluable support throughout.

It is also a testament to Joe and Olga Maloney for their hard work, coordination and dedication, producing year after year such wonderful spectacles. May they give us many more years of fantastic memories.

A great suggestion for anyone who missed this year’s festival is to book early for next year, it is well worth seeing as it is an array of colour, splendour and performance.