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I started the month by celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight. Stockton has been a Fairtrade borough for almost 12 years now, promoting and providing Fairtrade products as it means farmers in poorer countries get a fair deal. As part of the celebrations I met the Hartlepool contingency from the bus at the Swallow Hotel and walked through the High Street to the riverside handing out chocolates to residents.
You may have already seen some photos from the Council meeting held on 5 March, where I presented the Civic Awards. The Awards celebrate individuals, community groups, and business that make a significant contribution to the borough and the people who live and work here. It is a fantastic opportunity to recognise all the good work that takes place in our Borough and to say thank you to those who give so much. One of the winners, Eric Whitehouse, couldn’t attend on the night so later in the month I visited Eric at his At The Hop groups to make sure he received the award. Details of all the winners, as well as how to put forward a nomination for next years awards, can be found on Stockton Borough Councils website https://www.stockton.gov.uk/stockton-council/the-mayor-and-civic-offices/mayors-civic-awards/
Stockton’s Annual Children’s Book of the Year awards was held at the end of the month and I was there to announce the winners, more details can be found on the website. I supported the local Mind charity by attending their #Let’s Do It project achievement ceremony and presented those who participated with certificates. There was another awards ceremony this month at the Beeches Care Home, where staff were recognised for all their hard work.
I was able to share knowledge of our Borough’s heritage when hosting Tours of Stockton Town Hall for Stockton Riverside College and Stockton Learning & Skills students and a Cub pack from Norton, as well as welcoming new people to our Borough through the Citizenship ceremony that was also held in the Town Hall. I attended an open day at Parkfield Community Centre, which had the theme Our Voice for Our Rights where I spoke to local residents and listened to their stories. Stockton Stage Society put on their annual show at Billingham Forum at the beginning of March, this year’s performance being Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and I had the privilege of being part of the audience. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, which showcased the talents of lots of local people.
International Women’s Day took place on 8 March and I attended an event to celebrate at Stockton Baptist Tabernacle. The theme for this year’s campaign was Balancing for Better, which means building a gender-balanced world, and the event focussed on both the plight of refugees and Fairtrade. As women we have progressed so much in the last 100 years since we were given the right to vote in the UK, but we still have much ground to cover to bridge the gender inequality gap.
The new Hampton by Hilton Hotel opened its doors this month and I was proud to officially open the hotel. It is beautiful inside, so I’d encourage you to pop in for a drink and a snack if you can. The hotel will provide much needed accommodation for businesses in the Borough and surrounding area, and has already had lots of bookings.
On the 14 March I held a charity fundraising event at Jolsha Restaurant in Norton, with Civics from across the North East attending, along with my fellow council members, the charities that I support, and friends. My guests enjoyed a delicious Indian meal and helped me raise funds for my nominated charities with a raffle and stand-up bingo. A big thank you goes not only to Jolsha who hosted the event, but also to Wynyard Park who provided match funding for the night – boosting the amount that we made for charity. It was a fabulous night!
I supported my fellow Mayor’s from across the North East by attending their charity events, including Sunderland’s Mayor’s Ball, the Mayor of Darlington Service of Thanksgiving, and the Mayor of Hartlepool’s Curry Night and his Civic Dinner. The Darlington Hippodrome has re-opened after refurbishment, and I was invited with other Civics from the North East to a tour of the Theatre. The theatre was built in 1907 as a music hall, and it was great to look around and learn more about the buildings heritage.
The Iranian New Year is celebrated at the same time as the Spring Equinox, and I was privileged to be invited to celebrate the occasion at ARC. I have ended the month attending the North East Japanese Women’s Association Lunch at Durham Castle on Sunday.