Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Week Commencing 4 December 2017

Monday 4 December 2017

White Ribbon Pledge

I was given the privilege to sign the White Ribbon Pledge.

Marie Smith a volunteer who works for Stockton Harbour Support Services – Working for Safer Communities, a Domestic Abuse Organisation in Stockton which provides a refuge and Outreach Service for victims of Domestic Abuse, made the request with a brief message to cover.

The organisation is doing an ongoing campaign of sixteen days of action, in which they were asking men to sign the White Ribbon Pledge. Thousands of people around the world are making a commitment to play their part in standing up to condemn violence against women by signing the pledge. I fully endorse the pledge and stated my pledge being:

 I promise never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women.

 

Monday 4 December 2017

Attended Durham University Study Centre Grand Opening at Tees Suite, Wolfson Building, Queens Campus, University Boulevard, Stockton

 

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Queens Campus, University Boulevard

 

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Anthony Long – Address

We were delighted to be invited to the official opening of Durham International Study Centre, an exciting new collaboration between Durham University and Study Group. Together with other SBC attendees we joined the Centre staff to celebrate this significant event and hear from international students about their experiences.

The Study Group is working with Durham University to provide pathway programmes for international students to enable them to study at Durham.

Speeches were delivered by Professor VC Anthony Long and David Leigh welcoming all to the event and spoke on the development and opportunities of what the International Study Centre at Queen’s Campus can give to the new students, and were very proud to undertake new challenges with the opening of the Centre. As guest speaker I thanked Anthony and John for their positive words. I responded to the assembly by saying that Stockton had been welcoming student for 25 years now. Since Durham University opened its Campus in 1992, these students have benefited from an incredible education and a remarkable community. We in turn, have benefited from their amazing diversity, capability, and ongoing contributions to our local economy. Many have gone on to do exceptional things, and Stockton has been richer for their presence.

This new International Study Centre is the start of a new and exciting chapter for both the University and for Stockton. Integrating people from all classes, cultures, backgrounds and walks of life into our Northern Town isn’t a simple task. Working closely with the Centre and with the local community, Stockton Borough Council has ensured that these new international students make the most of their time here, and provided the warmest welcome.

And this welcome is tremendously important, because students are here to learn, but they’re not just here to learn. They will bring wide-ranging benefits to our community and we are looking forward to making them feel at home in Stockton for many years to come.

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With Professor Anthony Long and James Pitman

The forum gave the opportunity for two students to speak about their experiences. Jad El Kari and Gwen Sim gave excellent accounts of who they were, where they came from, what is expected of them, getting familiar with their new surroundings, interacting with local communities and the achievements they wish to make.  Talking to Gwen, who is from Singapore, she spoke highly of Stockton and the local people, although with cultural differences she had settled in quite well and was looking forward to the many events Stockton has to offer throughout the year. Gwen knew the area where we were living in Singapore for 10 years; at least we had something in common, and had a good chat about our life and experiences there.

For me it was a pleasure meeting the students as we are not too old to learn about different cultures throughout the world.

I wished them the very best for the future, hoping they all graduate to higher levels and to ensure them we are always here to help in any way possible.   

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In discussion with Gwen Sim of Singapore and Jad El Kari from the Lebanon

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With students from around the world – International Study Centre

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We have a wonderful bridge between Stockton and Thornaby. The student’s outlook is fantastic.

Monday 4 December 2017

Attended Sembcorp 2018 Community Calendar Launch at STEM Centre, Middlesbrough College, Dock Street, Middlesbrough

undefinedDelivering my address

It was a great pleasure to be invited to the launch of the 2018 Community Calendar at Middlesbrough College STEM Centre and present prizes to the children whose artwork will adorn the calendar.

The theme of the schools competition this year was ‘My Perfect Day’ and the children have come up with a range of colourful and imaginative ideas. The calendar is sent free to more than 20,000 households nearest the site and is much anticipated by many.

In my address I welcomed all to this exciting event and started by thanking Sembcorp for organizing the Community Calendar, and all the other companies that so generously support this brilliant competition – companies like CF Fertilizers, Inter Terminals and Lucite International.  It was great to see successful companies taking an active interest in the communities where they are based. They deserve special credit and a big ‘thank you’ for their long term commitment and investment into Teesside.

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With Minion and Spongebob

As I am the Mayor for only one year, so only judge this year’s entries for the Community Calendar – which is a good thing – because the standard is so high, it was really hard to decide which ones were the best. Looking at the pictures on display you would realise how hard it was!

As the theme is ‘My Perfect Day’, I was asked to quickly tell the school children what my perfect day would be like. It would start after a long lie-in, because the Mayoress and I are so busy that we would get little time to rest.

After a lovely breakfast, we would go on a trip in Dr Who’s Tardis, and visit some special events in history. While we were there, we would change some of the bad things that have happened in the past. As we have the Tardis, the day could last quite a long time!

Eventually, we would come home for tea and enjoy our favourite meal. Then we would get to bed early – to make sure we get plenty of sleep – so that we’ll be ready to get back to our busy lives.

In closing, I said ‘Well done’ to everyone who had taken part, and they should be proud of themselves, whether their picture is in the calendar or not, I hope that one day, they will all get the chance to enjoy their ‘perfect’ day. I wished everyone a wonderful time whatever they were doing over Christmas and the New Year.

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With prize winners and the Mayor of Redcar & Cleveland, Cllr Karen King

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Sharing a joke with the prize winner

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Prize winner

Monday 4 December 2017

Attended the Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland Christmas Carol Concert at St Nicholas Church, Church Street, Guisborough

 

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 Entrance to St Nicholas Church.

 

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 Church decorations.

At the invitation of Councillor Karen King with other civic guests, we had the pleasure of attending the Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland’s Christmas Choir Concert at St Nicholas Church, in Guisborough.

The concert involved the Dalesmen Singers, Ings Farm Primary School Choir and Wheatlands Primary School Choir. Raffles also took place with the money raised going to the Mayors Charity Fund in aid of The Junction (supporting young people aged between 5 to 25) and Still Parents (Baby Bereavement support).

We had a wonderful evening listening and singing with the choirs and I must say the choirs put on a great performance and the Christmas carols were well selective as I knew most of them. At the end of the carol concert we mingled with the congregation and the choirs whilst enjoying a hot cup of tea and a bun.

We thanked Karen the Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland and her organizers of the evenings event for the outstanding performance of the choirs, a really enjoyable evening.

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Ings Farm Primary School Choir

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Wheatlands Primary School Choir

From Tuesday 5 to 8 December 2017

Meeting SBC Staff

The Mayor and Mayoress visited all SBC Council offices to meet and talk with staff and get a greater understanding of their working operations and for them to know who the Mayor and Mayoress where and the support that is given. We visited Stockton Municipal Building and Church Road building on the 5 December, Billingham Cowpen Depot, Kingsway House and Queensway House on 6 December, and Bayheath House, and Stirling House on 7 December. It was a real pleasure to meet and greet as many people as possible and I am proud to say that we have one of the best, if not the best set of people working  for the council in this country of ours. It is a testament to them for their skills and dedication that our service teams have contributed over many years in delivering the very high standard, quality services and investment in the long term future of the Borough. It also gave us a chance to sell a few raffle tickets for the Mayors Charities, this at the suggestion of one of our officers, so I contributed the prizes to cover. The donations from our staff raised over £1000 for our three main charities, Cleveland Alzheimers Residential Care, Meningitis Now and Motor Neurone Disease Association. We thank everyone who gave to the charities and hope the winners enjoyed their prizes; those that didn’t win anything know their contributions go to good deserving causes.

 

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Attended Stockton Riverside College’s performance of Oliver at the ARC, Dovecote Street, Stockton

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Bill Sykes - My name issss Bill Sykes

It was a great pleasure to be invited to the performance of ‘Oliver’ at the ARC Theatre, Stockton Arts Centre, the event performed by the Stockton’s Riverside College. Also in attendance were College governors, local councillors, local businesses and other Tees Valley mayors.

Stockton Riverside College’s annual Christmas production is always the highlight of the academic year. Lionel Bart’s classic Oliver is a stunning story based on the Charles Dickens novel and takes audiences on an adventure through Victorian times in England with exciting songs such as ‘Who will buy my sweet red roses’. The musical is renowned throughout the theatre world and is a favourite at this time of the year with many people.

The show was absolutely brilliant, it was so professionally done that it compares with any London West End performances, and I’ve seen a few of those in my time. The students and the younger members of the cast were absolutely great, their timing, delivery and singing were first class, and the dance sequences were out of this world, coming from the back of the theatre down the main isles to the front of the stage and along where we were sitting was something to behold, almost felt at one time we were part of the production as they were so close to us performing their routines.  

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Nancy – As long as he needs me

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Who will buy my sweet red roses – Two blooms for a penny

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Cast of Oliver

We met the cast of Oliver at the foyer entrance of the ARC and thanked them for a wonderful performance; it was magic and wished them all the best for their future.

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Attended the Charity Air Trail Climb for Eastern Ravens Trust at Tees Barrage, Stockton

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With other Councillors at the Air Trail 

At the inception, Councillor Derrick Brown and I gave thought about raising money for a worthwhile charity cause and close to many people’s hearts we chose Eastern Ravers Trust. Without exception Derrick did all the donkey work, setting up an event with other Councillors involved, to scale the dizzy heights of the Air Trail course near the Stockton Barrage. It was a privilege to be part of the team of Councillors, who gave up their time for this exciting adventure. Some had not done anything like this before, but were prepared to give it a go and blow the consequences, going out of our comfort zone I heard one say, but the cause was worth it.

Eastern Ravens Trust had been providing support to local children, young people and their families in the Borough for over 50 years. At the heart of their work is seeking to help young carers, young people who provide care for another family member with an illness, a disability, or is affected by mental ill-health or substance misuse. This caring responsibility can mean that the young people often miss out on many life opportunities and experiences. This can also affect their education, having time for hobbies and being able to build friendships and socialise.

The young carers Project activity seeks to redress this by offering a range of support services which includes:

. Time out and a break from caring

. Opportunities to enjoy similar life experiences as their peers.

. Family support

. Raising awareness of young carers in schools.

Eastern Ravens has also pioneered a successful ‘Young Carers Aloud’ project to enable a group of young carers to make their voices heard locally and nationally. For more details, visit their website www.easternravenstrust.org.

The Air Trail is made up of four levels, with 38+ unique challenges plus two zip wires and a small ropes course for mini explorers. The centre also offers a seating area and refreshments are available. With the other 6 Councillors we had a great experience traversing the Air Trail course and eventually reaching the top and the panoramic views to behold. Those that didn’t quite make the top but were able to go down the zip wire said it had been a great adventure and plenty of adrenaline rush.

The event raised a magnificent £400 for the East Ravens Trust and I thank all the other Councillors and their friends for their contributions in aid of this worthwhile charity. I also thanked the climbers who ventured out on this cold day and performed magnificently well, I’m sure they will never forget the experience. Back to the pub for refreshments.

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The magnificent 7, Councillors Stefan, Sonia, Derrick, Norma, The Mayor, Paul and Mick – all kitted out ready to climb

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The first steps are always the trickiest – but we are raring to go 

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Christmas book gifts for children in our care

SBC have adopted a scheme of providing books for children in care who want one at Christmas. The idea is simple, 100 books were identified that children in care would need, there asks were included on a ‘Gift Tree’ in Drakes bookshop in Silver Street in Stockton. Council members and officers go in, select one, and pay for it. The book is then collected for the child in care. As corporate parents it demonstrates our commitment in a special way and we support a local business in the process.

As I’m a bit partial to Science Fiction and space travel, my choice was a Tim Peake children’s book about his time in space. Hope the child who selected this book enjoys reading this space adventure. 

Thursday 7 December 2017

Attended the Mayor of Durham’s Carol Service at Durham Room, County Hall, Durham

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Outside Durham County Council, County Hall, Durham

We were warmly welcomed by the Mayor of Durham, Councillor and Chairman Bill Kellett to his Christmas Carol Service at County Hall. With other civics we were entertained to a wonderful collection of Carols provided by Durham Schools orchestra and choir.

Bill welcomed everyone to the Carol service and introduced us to the schools orchestra which there were over 40 in total. Following the carol service there were raffle prizes to be won and the proceeds went to the Mayors charities.

During the service we sang some memorable carols such as: ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘Deck the Halls’, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, ‘Christmas Swingalong’ and many others. When we came to singing Jingle Bells the conductor requested audience participation, so she gave me some bells to jingle and with Lord Lieutenant of Durham Sue Snowden we made a merry tune to the accompaniment of the choir and orchestra. 

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Bill Kellett Mayor of Durham – Delivering his address

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Durham youth orchestra

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Sue and me jingling to ‘Jingle Bells’

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 Some of County Hall’s magnificent stained glass windows. Mining themes.

We had a really enjoyable time and thanked Bill, his team, the youth orchestra and choir for the pleasure of attending and listening to some great carols. Wishing Bill and Durham a merry christmas and healthy new year. 

Thursday 7 December 2017

Attended the Royal British Legion Christmas Event at Yarm Fishing Club, 4 Blenavon  Court, Yarm

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I bet the fisher folk could tell some tales, especially the fish that got away

Lin Simpson and Roger Bannister who run the Stockton and Yarm Branch of the Royal British Legion invited us to the poppy Thank You gathering at the Yarm Angling Club in Yarm, to say a few words and help to give out a number of Poppy Thank You certificates.

I mentioned that we were delighted to be invited to this event as the poppy appeal is one that we look forward to throughout the year. We know Lin, Roger and their team of helpers give an enormous amount of time and energy of their free will in collecting for those that are in most need of the support, those that have difficulties when injured or leaving the army after conflict. The Poppy Appeal relies on volunteers who give up their valuable time raising funds for those who need it most.

Their voluntary work on the Poppy Appeal also ensures that the sacrifices of those involved in the Armed Forces for our nation are never forgotten, ensuring that people understand the importance of Remembrance.

Without their dedication to the Royal British Legion, and to the Stockton and Yarm Branch in particular, then the fantastic work that they carry out will not be able to go ahead. Work such as providing grants and loans to ex-service personnel. Work such as providing advice on finding employment after leaving the Forces. Work such as supporting ex-service personnel live independently, receiving the care that they need. This all makes a real difference to the lives of ex-service men and women, as well as their families, and I am sure that it is truly appreciated by them.

So I said a huge thank you to all at the Stockton and Yarm Branch of the Royal British Legion for all their hard work in helping Serving and Ex- members of the Armed Forces throughout the year. Well done.

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Roger Bannister delivering his address and welcome speech

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The Royal British Legion Team

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Thank you certificates to Poppy sellers

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The say they have fished at High Force but I bet they caught their tiddlers at the back of the angling club in Yarm 

Friday 8 December 2017

Hosted two Carol Services at Stockton Parish Church, High Street, Stockton, am and pm

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Mayor reading Luke 2: 8 – 20   The Shepherds and Angels.

With the Reverend Emily Hudghton.

At my request I warmly invited many guest to join me in this year’s Mayoral Christmas Carol Service held in the inside of the magnificent 300 year old Parish Church in Stockton High Street.

Many schools from across the borough joined us and the service was planned to maximise their involvement. The great thing about this was 24 schools requested participation so therefor we had to split the service and have two services in the day. It was great to see so many people attending the service on the day with civic guests, the Lord Lieutenant of Durham and Deputy of North Yorkshire, members of the public and our charity organisers, the church was full on both occasions.

AM. Service.

After the Mayoral procession the Stockton Synthonia Male Voice Choir led the congregation with carol ‘Hark the Herold Angels Sing’. The order of service was as follows:

  • Reverend Mark Miller and the Reverend Emily Hudghton welcomed and introduced all in assembly and what followed we’ve never seen before, being entertained by the muppet’s - Salt and Light on a Christmas theme.
  • Rosebrook Primary School recorder group did ‘The Bamboo Walk’, followed by the Eaglescliffe School singing ‘He Smiles in a Manger’, Eaglesciffe School pupils also read Isaiah 9:2 6-7.
  • Oxbridge Primary School then sang ‘Away in a Manger’ followed by Hartburn Primary School singing ‘Somewhere in My Memory’.
  • Reverend Martin Anderson delivered the reading Mathew 1:18-23, which was followed by St Patrick’s RC Primary School singing ‘O Holy Night’.
  • Junction Farm Primary School sang ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, then  me the Mayor reading Luke 2: 8-20.
  • Reverend Mark Miller delivered his christmas address, The shape of now and the future. This was followed by Stockton and Synthonia Male Voice Choir leading the cogregation into singing the carol ‘Silent Night’.
  • Abbey Hill Academy sang ‘Mistletoe and Wine’, followed by Norton Primary School  singing ‘Starry Night’.
  • Prayers were then read by Eaglescliffe School, following this was the carol ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’.
  • We all sang ‘O Come All You Faithful’lead by the Stockton Synthonia Male Voice Choir, the n ending the service with thanks and plessings by the Reverend Mark Miller. 

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PM. Service.

A similar service was delivered during the afternoon session using the same format as the morning session but with different schools performing their own arrangements as follows:

  • Bader Primary School sang ‘One Little Voice’
  • Village Primary School sang ‘Away in a Manger’
  • Crooksbarn Primary School sang ‘I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas’
  • Bewley Primary School sang ‘Midnight’
  • Durham Lane Primary School sang ‘Christmas Melodies’
  • St Cuthberts Primary School sang ‘Mary Did You Know’
  • Frederick Natrass Primary School sang ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’

 

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Children in festive mood

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Reflecting on the Christmas Spirit

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Hartburn Primary School in full voice.

Both services, morning and afternoon were fantastic to say the least as we were treated to some brilliant singing from the many school’s choirs and the Stockton Billingham Male Voice choir. To embrace the mood for Christmas we had a number of activities during the services with the Rev Mark Miller introducing Christmas challenges by way of pass the parcel. The one that got me was when one of the children, at the parcel stop, requested the Mayor to perform a challenge. Opening the sealed envelope revealed that I had to recite ‘Humpty Dumpty’ standing on one leg, what a performance but it was all in good fun. One of the highlights of the services was the introduction of Salt and Light the infamous puppeteers performing Christmas monologues, carols and  finishing off with an Elvis Presley interpretation of the carol ‘Blue Blue Christmas’, absolutely brilliant. 

Our good wishes and many thanks go to Rev’s Mark Miller and Emily Hudghton, their team of church staff, my Chaplain Reverend Martin Anderson, all who did us proud on the day, the children from the many schools who came and performed, their teachers, the Stockton/Billingham Male Voice Choir, Salt and Light and last but not least our Democratic Service team who always do a fabulous job.

From the comments made by our fellow dignitaries after the services, said they had not seen or heard anything like it in all the services they had been to through the years, unusual, but very enlightening and enjoyable and exceedingly apt for Christmas, the variety was exceptional.

Friday 8 December 2017

Attended the Cleveland Army Cadet Force Cocktail Party at HMS Trincomalee, National Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool

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Hartlepool Historic Dockyard 

At the request of Colonel AK Laker we were invited to the Cleveland Army Cadet Force Cocktail Party, held at HMS Trincomalee at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool. Other principal guests at the service included the Mayor and escort from Redcar and Cleveland, the Deputy Mayor of Hartlepool, Mayor of Middlesbrough, Armed Forces Champion, Commander 4 Brigade, and other Brigade Senior Officers.

The evening’s event was to thank local councils and organisations for their invaluable support given over the last year. Colonel Tony Laker gave the thanks and a toast to everyone who gave support and was an appreciation, working together in collaboration for the stability of the cadet force.

It was freezing on board the Trincomalee, how the crew manage to survive the harsh weathers on the open seas I’ll never know, they must have been a hardy bunch of jolly jack tar’s in days gone by. With a couple of glasses of rum to keep out the cold, for medicinal purposes of course, it wasn’t too bad; it only felt like 10 below during the evening. The Cadet Army Band played throughout the evening with exception of a single drummer going through his numerous routines, a bit like Gene Krupa an American drummer from the 60’s with his energetic, flamboyant style of jazz numbers, he was really good.

For the occasion the civics’ were presented with Army Cadet Force Plaques by Colonel Tony Laker in appreciation of our support. In return we thanked Colonel Tony Laker for the gift as it was much appreciated, and will place it in the Mayoral chambers as appropriate.  We also thanked him for a most enjoyable evening and wished the unit well for the future.

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HMS Trincomalee – One of the 38 Guns.

A bit of history for you:

HMS Trincomalee is part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, alongside our prestigious heritage fleet which include HMS Victory, HMS Alliance and HMS Caroline. She is the oldest warship afloat anywhere in the Europe, berthed at Jackson Dock within the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Hartlepool. It is a sleek fighting machine, the most advanced for her age, manned by a breed of hardy sailors, well used to long life at sea.

She was built by the East India Company for the Admiralty at the Wadia Shipyard in Bombay, was one of 47 built as a 38 gun Leda class frigate. Built in 1817 and made of Malabar Teak.

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Army Cadet Band

undefinedColonel AK Laker presenting me with the Cleveland Army Cadet Force Plaque

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Presentation to the Deputy Mayor of Hartlepool

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Presentation to Karen King Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland

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Saturday 9 December 2017

Attended the Relaunch of the Enterprise Arcade, in the High Street, Stockton

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With traders outside the newly named Fountain Shopping Mall

 

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Opening the newly named Fountain Shopping Mall

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My address

 

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Followed by loads of singing

 We had a great morning in Stockton as we were invited by Carole Earl from B Supplied Ltd, she manages the Enterprise Arcade on a day to day basis on behalf of SBC.   It was a privilege to formally mark the new name of the building and celebrate its 3rd year.  The building is now called Fountain Shopping Mall home of the Enterprise Arcade.

Prior to cutting the ribbon to officially rename the Enterprise Arcade to Fountain Shopping Mall I delivered my address to the throng. In 2011, Stockton on Tees Borough Council began a £38million investment programme aimed at improving the physical environment and function on Stockton High Street. In 2011 the original Enterprise Arcade was opened in 147 High Street (as for most people refer to it as the ‘Old Burtons Shop’!) It had space for 5 start-up businesses, which each had space to develop their business on an initial 6 month licence.

As the High Street regeneration works progressed, investor confidence in Stockton town centre increased and there was a significant increase in demand for space within the Arcade. Potential business was being lost to the area or live interest could not be followed up, as there simply wasn’t enough space within the Arcade to provide support. In early 2014, after an evaluation of available properties within Stockton Town Centre, SBC acquired the freehold of this large, four story, vacant building and secured a Heritage Lottery grant to support the refurbishment of the building, repair and fit out of the ground floor.

Three years on it continues to go from strength to strength. As you can see today, the building is full to capacity with a fantastic, diverse range of businesses from the sale of wedding dresses to milkshakes! There is something for everyone! Indeed, Lazy Gurl’ opened last month with Madeline Clark being the 70th tenant to go through the Enterprise Arcade Model – I am sure she will get the support she needs to make a success of the business.

I am delighted that the ethos of the project has not changed since 2011. It’s still providing affordable space, on flexible terms and enabling people to test their business idea in a real ‘live ‘retail environment. Crucial to the success of the business is the on-going, day to day support provided to the tenants by B Supplied Ltd, who also manage the building on behalf of Stockton Borough Council.

There are a number of businesses who have now successfully traded in Stockton Town Centre for a number of years, who started their journey in the Enterprise Arcade such as Wags and Whiskers on Dovecot Street, with a further three on Silver Street, including Drake – The Bookshop. 

As the project evolves it was decided that the building needed to reflect what it is, a little more explicit…… from little acorns. I then formally marked and opened the ‘Fountain Shopping Mall’….. ‘Home of the Enterprise Arcade’ by going outside and cutting the ribbon.

Teas and buns were the order of the day thereafter, and then talked to some of the townsfolk whilst listening to our soloist who provided us with excellent voice and entertainment throughout the rest of the morning.

We thanked the business staff, traders and SBC staff for their hard work in providing this facility and wished them all well trading in the future in their newly named building. 

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Just Believe – Julia Powell’s artistic talent at work

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Laraine the Mayoress at the Fairytale Dress Shop

 

Sunday 10 December 2017

Attended the Mayor of Shildon’s Civic Carol Service at Shildon Civic Hall, Civic Hall Square, Shildon

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Civics in attendance in support of Shildon’s Civic Carol Service

Shirley Quinn Mayor of Shildon has always provided us with superb entertainment when visiting Shildon, and the evenings programme was no exception. The Carol Service was organised by Shirley and the ‘Churches together in Shildon’, and provided us with a wonderful evening of enjoyment.

We were welcomed by Major Adrian Coupe with his Salvation Army Band, and after raising a few tunes we were led into the first carol ‘O Come all ye Faithful’. Prayers were led by Reverend Andy Bryer from the Methodist Church then Shirley Quinn, Shildon Town Mayor, read the first Bible Reading: John 1: 1-5, 10-14, The Word became flesh. This was followed by everyone singing the carol ‘Joy to the world, the Lord is come’!

The choir of St Joseph’s RCVA Primary school, from Coundon sang a number of carols with great voice; this was followed by Father Tony Cornforth, from St Thomas Roman Catholic Church delivering thanks to all assembled. We all sang ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ then the bible reading was delivered by Miss Amelia Clarkson – Birth of Jesus.

A Christmas Message by the Reverend Canon David Tomlinson was enthusiastically delivered, I think the message got through to all, the Carol ‘While Shepherds washed their socks by night’ was then sung by all, then the Salvation Army Band played festive tunes as we relaxed our vocal cords for a while before singing the last carol of the evening ‘Hark the Herald-Angel Sing’.

But not finishing on that note we were entertained by the Tearaways Theatre Group who gave an excellent version of modern day tunes and carols for all to enjoy, they were exceptional. Finally the Reverend Canon David Tomlinson gave blessings and thanks to all’

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The Tearaways Theatre Group

During the evening a collection was taken, the proceeds to be divided equally between the Mayor’s charities and the charity of the Year Churches Together in Shildon. Shirley gave thanks to everyone who had taken the time, given their energy, and shared their enthusiasm to make the evening possible and also to all that contributed to the charities of choice: Alzheimer’s Research and Barnados.

We had a great time and thanked Shirley for a most enjoyable evening then retired to the main hall of the church for light refreshments and a good natter with the town folk. It was with thanks to those who arranged the different churches working together on this special occasion, and felt that in the future there would be less division between faiths if we had more congregations like we had this evening.

Going home it had started to snow, from the comfort of our warm car we sat back and relaxed looking out onto a landscape of a Christmas vista, very apt from whence we came. 

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Salvation Army Band Leader

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Home at last from Shildon