Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Week Commencing 18 December 2017

Monday 18 December 2017

Attended the Young at Heart Christmas Party, Café in the Park, John Whitehead Park, The Causeway, Billingham



Enjoying the Young at Heart Christmas lunch

It was a privilege to meet up with Allison Watson- Shields who does a tremendous amount of work with the Young at Heart Groups in Stockton Borough. It is in appreciation for her hard work and commitment, making a difference to people’s lives, especially those with dementia, and providing the support that will enable them to go on to healthy happy futures. The groups are supported and encouraged to take part in a range of activities that promote creativity, cognitive stimulation and physical activity, as well as engaging socially with other group members. Like today she organised a Christmas lunch for those members of the Billingham Group which everyone appreciated, knowing that there are people who care for those who have difficulties to cope.

This was Allison’s first year with the Billingham Group creating social support for people living with dementia and their carers. The three course lunch provided by Whitehead Park was delicious and we thanked the Park Staff for making the day memorable.  

We also thanked Allison and the carers for all the hard work and commitment they provide for the people of the Borough.



With Allison and helper at the Café in the Park, Billingham


Monday 18 December 2017

Attended Hartlepool’s Civic Carol Service at St Hildas Church, Church Walk, The Headland, Hartlepool


St Hilda’s Church Christmas lights

We were delighted to join Paul and Mary Beck Mayor and Mayoress of Hartlepool, for the Carol service at St Hilda’s church on the Headland in Hartlepool. This special event to mark the celebrations of Christmas, and give thanks to the community spirit which makes Hartlepool town such a great place to work and play. 

At the start of the service the Reverend Verity Brown delivered the Reading 1: John: 1-5 in the beginning was the word. This was followed by the Procession into the church by the Lord Lieutenant, Mayor, Mayoress and the Reverend Verity Brown and Choirs. The joint choirs sang Stille Nacht, with the Rev Verity Brown delivering Christ has brought us out of darkness.

Paul Beck delivered the Welcome, after which the Rev Verity Brown delivered Introduction and opening Prayers, followed by all singing the carol ’O Come all Ye Faithful’. The second Reading – A reading from the prophet Micah, The Ruler from Bethlehem, was read by Mrs Sue Snowdon Lord Lieutenant of Durham, then the Paraphernalia Choir sang ‘We have seen the Light’.

The third Reading from Luke’s Gospel, The Birth of Jesus Foretold, was delivered by Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Leader of Hartlepool Council, then the Choirs sang Christmas Lullaby. The fourth Reading a Poem: The cost of Love, was read by Paul Beck the Ceremonial Mayor, then the Logos choir sang ‘In the town of Bethlehem’. The fifth Reading from Luke’s Gospel, The Shepherds and Angels, was delivered by Isobel Wilson, Honorary Freewoman, which was followed by the Paraphernalia Choir singing Candlelight Carol. Reading six was A Poem: Epiphany, was read by Councillor Allan Barklay, Deputy Mayor, followed by all singing the carol ‘We Three Kings’.

The Christmas Message was delivered by the Rev Verity Brown, followed by Prayers and Intercession, delivered by Rev Gill Alexander, Chief Executive, then the Lord’s Prayer. We all sang the carol ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’, this was followed by the Christmas Blessing by Rev Verity Brown, and finally the choirs sang the carol ‘O Holy Night’, before retiring to the back of the church for refreshments.

We thanked Paul and Mary for a joyous evening and wished them well for Christmas and New Year.


Unusual Church Cross


Paraphernalia and Logos Choirs



Inside St Hilda’s Church


Wednesday 20 December 2017

Chaired the meeting of the Full Council at the Town Hall, High Street, Stockton

Prior to the main agenda we gave consideration to a posthumous appoint of Honorary Alderman to Stephen Smailes in accordance with Section 249 (1) of the Local Government Act 1972, this was passed unanimously. Mrs Marie Smailes and guests will be invited to attend a future meeting of the Council to participate in a ceremony during which the title will be conferred.

There was a presentation to Vicki Ingham, Replacement Assessment Manager-Adult Social Worker of the Year Awards 2017. Vicki won the prestigious Adult Social Worker of the Year 2017 Silver Award at a ceremony in London on Friday 24 November, for her work with adults and their families. Well done to Vicki and may she continue her good work.


Vicki’s Silver Award - Social Worker of the Year Award

There was another presentation to Tracy Hamilton of Eastern Ravens. Let me say at this point on the 6 December 2017, it was a privilege to be part of the Councillors Team who scaled the dizzy heights of the Air Trail next to the Barrage, in support of the Eastern Ravens charity. It was a thrilling experience for this worthwhile cause and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Vicki and children from the Eastern Ravens received a cheque for £400 which Vicki thanked everyone who took part in the Air Trail and also to those who contributed to the Trust.


The Astronautics with Vicki- They’re all smiling now


Presentation of Cheque to the Eastern Ravens Trust

All issues were covered on the night and motions accepted going forward. It was noted that the recent By-Election, Louise Baldock was elected as Councillor for the Parkfield & Oxbridge Ward. The amendments to committees were noted and agreed. There were no public or members questions during the evening. Finally the Leader delivered the Forward Plan and Leaders Statement to close.


Thursday 21 December 2017

Attended Hartburn Primary School’s Christmas Carol Service at Adelaide Grove, Hartburn, Stockton


Hartburn Primary School Christmas Carols

It was a pleasure to attend the Hartburn Primary School Christmas Carol Service in the open, on the playground. The invitation was by way of the Head Teacher Julia Armstrong who gave us the opportunity to sing along with year 6 pupils. The theme T’was The Night Before Christmas, was performed by year 6 of the school, singing traditional and modern carols such as ‘Silent Night’, ‘It was on a Starry Night’, ‘Deck the Halls’, ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ and many others.

We had a lovely time and must say the pupils sang their hearts out with excellent voice; we were excited to take part and sing along with everyone. We thanked the Head Teacher for a wonderful afternoon and wished everyone a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.


With Head Teacher Julia Armstrong


Thursday 21 December 2017

Attended The Mayor of Darlington Civic Carol Service at St James the Great Church, Allen Street, Darlington

At the invitation of Jan Taylor Mayor of Darlington, we were warmly welcomed to St James the Great Church on Allen Street, Albert Hill, in Darlington. With many other civic guests and members of the choir ‘Exsultet’ who came from far and wide to be at the service this evening, we were welcomed into the church by Fr Kenneth.

At the beginning of the Carol Service of the Nine Lessons, we all stood to sing the carol ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, and the priest delivered The Word was made Flesh.


The beautiful church of St James the Great

The first Reading Genesis 3; 8-15 was followed by the anthem ‘Walking in the Garden’ sung by the choir Exsultet. The second Reading Genesis 22: 15-18 was delivered followed by the carol ‘It Came upon a Midnight Clear’. The third Reading Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 was delivered followed by the anthem ‘Kindle a light to lighten the Darkness’, sung by the choir Exsultet. The fourth Reading was delivered Micah 5: 2-4, followed by us all singing the carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’. 

The fifth Reading Luke 1: 26-33, 38 was delivered, followed by the anthem ‘Chester Carol’ (Qui creavit coelom), sung by the choir Exsultet. The sixth Reading Mathew 1: 18-25 was delivered, followed by the anthem ‘Silent Night Holy Night’, sung by the choir Exsultet, we all then sang the carol ‘Away in a Manger’. The seventh Reading Luke 2: 8-16 was delivered, followed by the anthem ‘See amid the Winter’s Snow’. The eighth Reading Matthew 2: 1-11 was delivered, followed by the anthem ‘Balulalow’, sung by the choir Exsultet, then we all sang the carol ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’. The ninth Reading John 1: 1-14 was delivered, followed by the carol ‘O come all Ye Faithful’. Finally the Blessing was delivered, Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you, to end the service.


The choir Exsultet

After the service we retired to the main hall for mulled wine and mince pies and a natter. We thanked Jan for a welcoming service and the refreshments afterwards. It was a pleasure to attend the service and wished everyone a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.


The choir Exsultet


Saturday 23 December 2017

Judged the Best dressed market stall competition at Stockton Market, High Street, Stockton


Winner of the Best Dressed Market Stall

It gave us great pleasure to meet up with Richard Beddard, Manager and Operations of Stockton’s traditional market, to judge all the participants in the best dressed market stall competition at Stockton Market. Traders dressed their stalls with Xmas themed decorations and the displays captured the spirit of Christmas.

Following the tour of the stalls and meeting the stall holders for a general chat we made our way to the Rediscover shop to make our decisions on the winner and runners up spots. Difficult as it was, the stall holders had made great efforts to get into the mode of the Christmas spirit along the High Street.

We finally made our choice and presented first, second and third stall holders with a signed certificate and a photo shoot that followed. It was a great little competition for the stallholders to take part, giving them a special focus to embrace the spirit of Christmas with customers and residents of Stockton.

We thanked Richard and his team for organising the event and I’m sure it made a difference to the stall holders, with this event getting into the swing of things for Christmas, and selling their wares.


Runner up of the Best Dressed Market Stall


Third prize for the Best Dressed Market Stall


Sunday 24 December 2017

Attended Carols on the Green at Red House Infants, Norton Village Green


Carols on the Green



The Birth of Jesus

It was a delight for us to be with the Rev Martin Anderson on Christmas Eve, at the end of the ‘Love Norton Advent Calendar Trail’, and to celebrate with everyone on Norton Green. The Love Norton Advent Calendar Trail has been a new and exciting event starting from the 1 December with young and old able to enjoy decorated Advent Windows, created by the children of Norton.

Festivities began with the opening of the window at the Norton Library on the High Street, others which followed throughout the next 23 days, opening windows  along the High Street and the Green at Victoria Bainbridge Hair and Beauty, Costa, Highland Laddie, Blackwell’s, Café Lilli, Sonia’s, Millbeck Care Home, Modern Home, Co-op, Head of Steam, Bluecorn Bakery, Big Red’s, Tasty Tarts, Brown’s Estate Agent, Honey Pot, Pinders Hairdressers, Bailey’s Vintage & Retro, Café Maison, Hartlands Shoe Repairs, Good Taste, Green Florist, Home Start, Kinng’s Coffee and finally St Mary’s Church.

Before entering St Mary’s Church we had a special outdoor ‘Carols on the Green’ event at the Red House Primary School field at 4pm. The service was conducted by the Rev Martin Anderson with Welcoming and Opening Prayers, then we sang ‘O Come, all ye Faithful’. The first Reading was delivered Luke 1: 26-30, Mary Hears the News, followed by the carol ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’.

I had the honour of delivering the second Reading, Luke 2: 8-14, The Angels Announce the Birth, which was followed by the carol ‘While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night’. The third Reading was delivered Luke 2: 15-20, The Shepherds find the baby, followed by the carol, ‘Away in a Manger’. The fourth Reading was delivered Matthew 2: 1-11, The Wise Men Follow the Star, followed by the carol ‘We Three Kings of Orient are’.

Then we had a Nativity Reflection performed by the children of Red House School with the Rev Martin Anderson conducting the proceedings, this was followed by the carol ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’.

At the end of the service Martin Delivered Prayers and blessings to all, before we retired into St Mary’s Church, to open the last window.


St Mary’s Church Crib 


With the Reverend Martin Anderson inside St Mary’s Church on the Green

The whole event which is new for the Norton area, had been a great success with over 700 residents and children taking part throughout the 24 days, a remarkable achievement and may it continue as an annual event in the Christmas Calendar. 

For the residents of the wonderful village of Norton, within the Borough of Stockton on Tees, we wish them all a Happy Christmas and every blessing to all throughout the New Year ahead.