Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Week Commencing 26 March 2018

Monday 26 March 2018 

Met students from North Shore Academy in the Jim Cooke Suit, Municipal Buildings.

The students arrived at the Municipal Buildings early morning and were given a presentation of what the Council does throughout their daily to yearly operations. Following this there was workshop for the students to decide would they like to ask senior management teams and what the students thought about Stockton-on-Tees as a place to live and grow up.


In discussion with North Shore Academy Students

After a quick break for refreshments they attended a meeting with our senior management team to ask some awkward questions about the performance of Stockton Borough Council and what the future holds for future development such as attracting more shops to the town centre, its cultural activities and provide more activities for children during holidays as they were finding it difficult to amuse themselves during that period.

It was a pleasure to give an account to the students of what has progressed during the last five years, with Stockton’s improved business arrangements in the area, its improved cultural activities including what would be on offer when the Globe Theatre has been re-established and the New Hilton Hotel developed. As to the question of finding things to do during holiday periods, it was pointed out to them that there are a thousand and one things that are available if only they take time to research what is available around the area, pointing out the many local places to visit, the sports venues and facilities, theatres, pastimes, action groups, parks, after school activities, and many others. They said they would take this on board and develop a group at their Academy to look at what the students really want to pursue in their leisure time activities out of school. We thanked the students for their input and welcomed their interest in the Council’ affairs.


We were privileged to meet and provide a presentation for the North Shore Academy Students


Tuesday 27 March 2018

Visited the Moses Project


The Moses Project Team and clients

At the request of Brian Jones and his wife Stella we were invited to The Moses Project organisation to view, discuss and understand what the organisation represents and what they are trying to do for people who have lost their way in life.

The Moses Project is a registered charitable company which provides guidance, mentoring and support to adult males over 25 years of age with past and current addictions to drugs and alcohol. The Moses Team are pleased to be helping and working with people, to gain more confidence, knowledge and skills to help them to change their lifestyle with a view to having a healthier and happier lifestyle, with positive outcomes leading to future employment. They help people on their way and make provisions to assist and encourage them in reducing their addictive behaviour by introducing them to alternative lifestyle activities such as: arranging interviews and entry into Rehabilitation Centres following a period of suitability assessment, including detoxing under medical supervision; subject to attending and working on mutual agreed recovery program they will be provided with a free hot meal; arrange initial appointments at doctors and other medical practitioners as required; provide a listening ear and guidance.

Information is shared only with legitimate organisations to collate management information, improve their wellbeing/employability and to further needs they may have.

In return each client is expected to abide by simple rules and should be adhered to at all times. They also have to agree to The Moses Project helping them to change their current lifestyle and cooperate to the best of their abilities to uphold the rules and conditions required for their attendance at the Moses Project.

Whilst in discussion with some of the clients they shared their past experiences some of which included being abused as children, being in care and away from their parents for many years, the trials and tribulations that followed into alcohol and substance abuse, to thieving on the streets to serve their uncontrolled needs, imprisonment, and attempted suicide.  But each one can claim that without the help of Brian, Stella and their team the outlook would have been even worse. These are forgotten men in our society who have no self-value or confidence, men living a world of hopelessness but with the intervention of The Moses Project and its one to one support have turned around some of the lives of these men, knowing it’s not easy or there is a magic wand to make things right immediately. By offering support with life’s everyday problems in a caring environment gives the opportunity to recover and rebuild lives and be re-engaged back into society.

We thanked Brian, Stella, their team of volunteers and clients for giving us a greater understanding of the reality of the situation and what can be achieved with positive outlooks. We wished the Project Team the best for the future and hope they can give continuous support for rehabilitation.


Wednesday 28 March 2018

Attended the Tees Valley School Games at the Dolphin Centre, Horse Market Darlington

It was with great pleasure to be invited to the Tees Valley School Games Festival, which took place at the Dolphin Centre in Horse Market Place in Darlington. 

The festival is the culmination of the intra-school and inter-school festivals and competitions which have taken place in the boroughs across the Tees Valley during the 2017-2018 academic year. They have battled their way through the qualifying rounds to this day which sees each borough’s winners compete against the best of the best for the right to be crowned Tees Valley Champions. During the day students took part in swimming, dancing, wheelchair basketball and netball.


Laraine with the games Mascot – Champo

Other civics and VIP’s across the Tees Valley including the Mayors, Mayoresses and consorts from Darlington, Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland and Middlesbrough were also in attendance to observe the day’s events. After formal introductions and opening ceremony we settled down to watch the swimming events which produced some fine competitions between schools, the caliber of the races were of the highest order, some could be possible athletes for the national teams in the future.

The Spirit of the Games Values focus on personal excellence through competition. The team in each competition who are considered to have upheld and demonstrated those values best were awarded the ‘Spirit of the Games’ trophy.

The six values were: Honesty, Teamwork, Respect, Self-belief, Passion and Determination.

Teams represented in the swimming were from Stockton Central, Hartlepool, Redcar and Eston, Middlesbrough, Darlington, Stockton Northfield and Cleveland.

With us in attendance was Chris Cook a Great Britain swimming competitor for nearly 10 years until he hung up his trunks and retired from international swimming and now works with businesses, performance teams, schools and organisations to assist them in pursuit of their goals, inspiring a world class mind-set and encourage people to follow their passion. Chris’s achievements throughout his 10 year international appearances were Olympic, European, World and Commonwealth championships as well as the British championships; he was a double Commonwealth champion in Melbourne, Australia breaking many records in the process.



Teesside High School netball team

The next port of call was at Polam Hall School grounds where we saw some riveting Netball matches. The years 7 and 8 netball competitions were underway with a round robin format played across a number of courts. The England and the county netball association ran this event on behalf of Tees Sport. I was suitably impressed with the Teesside High School netball team who played to a very high standard and won their first two games of the competition.


With the Creative Dance workshop team and Urban Chaos

From Polam Hall School following the netball competition we travelled back to the main hall upper deck to watch the Creative Dance workshop with Urban Kaos dance team. During their performance the team showed their prowess and performed with vision, energy, enthusiasm and dexterity, their coordination was superb and well done to the group.


With Middlesbrough Wheelchair Basketball Team

After the Creative Dance Workshop we walked to the main Sports Hall where the Wheelchair Basketball Competition was in progress, teams from Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton were involved. The teams were made up of youngsters some who were physically impaired and those that weren’t. Tremendous battles ensued as the wheelchairs crashed into one another, some even tipping over, the players where taking no prisoners as they were using every ounce of energy to get the ball into the net. 

During the interval the creative dance workshop with Urban Kaos provided us with a performance piece using material developed from the morning session, which everyone enjoyed with an encore for good measures.

The winners of the Wheelchair Basketball competition were eventually pronounced as Middlesbrough who won every hard fought match, with Stockton 1 taking the Runners up spot. The highlight of our day was to present trophies, medals and certificates to competitors and winning teams in the Wheelchair Basketball, Netball and Dance teams.



With Chris Cook Great Britain Swimming Champion

We hope that everyone enjoyed the games and helped to inspire youngsters to continue on their own sporting journey. Lots of thanks go to the Local Organising Committee and everyone else who helped to make the School Games Festival such a fantastic event.


Wednesday 28 March 2018

Attended the Launch of Savage Arena: The Legacy of Joe Tasker Exhibition at Preston Park Museum and Grounds, Yarm Road Stockton


In memory of Joe Tasker – Mountaineer

It was an immense privilege to be invited and talk about the Launch of ‘Savage Arena’; The Legacy of Joe Tasker Exhibition, at Preston Park Museum and Grounds, in Yarm Road, Stockton-on-Tees. The exhibition celebrated the life and achievements of world famous mountaineer, author and photographer, Joe Tasker who spent his childhood in Billingham and Port Clarence. Joe disappeared whilst attempting to climb Mount Everest in 1962. 

On behalf of Stockton Borough Council, I was delighted to welcome everyone to Preston Park Museum and Grounds for the opening of the exhibition, ‘Savage Arena’ – The Legacy of Joe Tasker. The exhibition, created by the Mountain Heritage Trust and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the British Mountaineering Council, celebrates and showcases the life of an inspiring mountaineer, writer and film maker who had a close connection to the Teesside area.



Opening the exhibition on the life of Joe Tasker

Although Joe Tasker was born in Hull, he spent most of his childhood in Port Clarence and then Billingham, where he showed early signs of an interest in climbing, tackling lamp posts and the gates of the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge. Joe’s real interest in mountaineering developed, however, during his time at Ushaw Seminary College in Durham. Inspired by Father Tony Barker, who encouraged his interest in mountaineering, Joe began climbing in a quarry behind the college along with a couple of college friends.

Aged 20, Joe made the hard decision to leave college, as he realised that he did not have the vocation to enter the priesthood. After working in a varied range of jobs, including in a Lake District quarry, he studied for a degree in sociology at Manchester University. Mountaineering, however, had become a huge part of his life and rather than setting on a career, he took a variety of jobs, including running a climbing shop, in order to be free to climb. He developed his skills in the Alps and Himalayas, climbing alongside Doug Scot, Chris Bonnington, Dick Renshaw and Pete Boardman.

As well as being an outstanding mountaineer, Joe was a talented photographer and an inspiring writer. His first book, ‘Everest, The Cruel Way’, described a winter expedition to the mountain. His second book, Savage Arena, vividly described many of the Challenging climbs he undertook in the Alps and the Himalayas and is regarded as one of the most important and inspirational works published about mountaineering. The Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature was partly named in his honour, in recognition of his contribution through writing as well as his climbing. This prestigious prize is awarded every year to authors writing with a mountaineering theme.

Joe Tasker tragically disappeared, alongside his climbing partner and friend, Pete Boardman, on the North East ridge of Mount Everest in May 1982, at the age of 34.

I just hope that everyone who came to the exhibition, a celebration of the life of Joe Tasker, a man who was described in a tribute after his disappearance as an outstanding mountaineer, with a very special warmth and vitality, who was totally happy in what he was doing. It was a privilege to meet his family and colleagues and talk about his exploits and writing prowess and is certainly missed in the Mountaineering fraternity.

Following my address our very own Mike McGrother performed his song ‘Joe’ written about Tasker, a fitting tribute. Savage Arena: The Legacy of Joe Tasker is on display at Preston Park Museum and Grounds until Sunday 24th June 2018, 10.00am to 4.00pm.


With Carolyn Aldrige discussing the life and times of Joe Tasker


Thursday 29 March 2018

Attended the Mayor of Sunderland’s VIP performance of Jersey Boys at Sunderland Empire High Street West Sunderland


With some of the VIP guests prior to the performance start

At the invitation of the Mayor of Sunderland, Doris MacKnight and Consort Keith MacKnight we spent a social evening with other civic guests at the Sunderland Empire Theatre, to see the VIP performance of Jersey Boys. The production tells the story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey, New York, US, who came to form the iconic 1960’s group ‘The Four Seasons’.

The story of their trials and tribulations are accompanied by the songs they wrote, invented their own unique harmony that influenced a generation by the songs including ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk Like a Man’, Dawn’, ‘Rag Doll’, ‘Bye Bye Baby’ and many more. They sold over 100 million records worldwide and are still remembered to this day.

It was a great evening with the audience singing along to some wonderful tunes, it was a production that everyone seemed to enjoy so much that they were still singing down the isles after the performance had ended.

We thanked Doris and Keith for the invitation to this great event and wished them well in their Mayoral year.


Jersey Boys production


Sunday 1 April 2018

Attended the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force Tree Planting Ceremony and Celebration at the Airman’s Statue, on Thornaby Road in Thornaby

We were invited by Dennis Grubb to take part in the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the RAF, and in commemoration to help plant a Royal Oak tree near the airman statue on Thornaby Road, Thornaby.


Saying a few words in dedication to the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the RAF

We arrived at Airman’s Statue VIP’s, with the Commanding Officer of RAF Leeming, the Mayor and Mayoress of Thornaby, Steve and Sylvia Walmsley, parade personnel including ATC Cadets, standard bearers, RAF priest and community members. It was an immense privilege to be at the celebrations on behalf of Stockton Borough Council and our residents, as we recognise and celebrate the RAF’s 100th anniversary.

Our Borough has a proud military heritage and continues to support the Armed Forces Community which includes veterans, reservists, serving military personnel and their families. We know that the demands on the Armed Forces Community are unique, and set them apart from others who serve and protect our society. They all deserve our utmost respect and backing for their outstanding dedication and sacrifices on behalf of our community and country.

 In March 2013, the Council was delighted to make its own support and commitment official along with a number of partners, by signing a local Armed Forces Community Covenant. The Council is determined to fulfill its obligation to our Armed Forces Community. One of them is to ensure that their contribution to our community is remembered, honoured and celebrated. That is why we were at the celebrations to remember, honour and celebrate the RAF and we are at the most appropriate place in the Borough to mark this centenary milestone, with its links going back to RAF Thornaby, which was first commissioned back in the 1920’s.

The RAF has enjoyed great success over the past 100 years. They have provided varied necessary sacrifices in defending our country, Commonwealth, Europe, and in support of allied forces across the world. We certainly have a lot to thank the RAF for, and that also includes the development of Civic Aviation in the UK and Air Sea Rescue. On behalf of Stockton Borough Council and residents, I thanked and congratulated all those associated with the RAF, serving personnel, veterans and their families. We can all be immensely proud of the RAF’s illustrious history and look forward to its bright future in the next 100 years.


With the Mayor of Thornaby Steve Walmsley helping to plant a Royal Oak tree to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the RAF

After the tree planting Mr Chapman read the RAFA dedication, following this the Last Post and Revalie was sounded then the blessing of the tree and plaque was carried out by the RAF priest, Fr Harry Hopkins. It was a very fitting tribute to the anniversary of the RAF in existence hoping once again that we shall never forget what has gone before.