Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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Week Commencing 27 November 2017

Monday 27 November 2017

Attended the Mayor of Seaham’s Ecumenical Civic Carol Service at Christ Church, Station Road, Seaham


Reading – Paul Fletcher, Deputy Town Clerk of Seaham Town Council

We had the pleasure of being invited to Seaham’s Ecumenical Civic Carol Service, at the Christ Church in Seaham by the Mayor and Consort Sonia and Bob Forster.  It is the season of good will towards all people and services throughout the region have proved very popular to the run up to Christmas, lest we ever forget what the real Christmas is all about.

All civic dignitaries were asked to assemble in the Church Hall prior to the service, to enable sufficient time for a parade to be formed, so that the Civic Dignitaries could walk in a processional order to the front of the Church where seats had been reserved for us.  The order of service followed after dignitaries were seated, and the first reading ‘The Coming of the Cold’ was delivered by the Reverend Paul Harrison and then greeted everyone to the service.

Our first carol ‘Angels from the realms of Glory‘ was sung, followed by the reading ‘In the days of Caesar’ by Councillor Sonia Forster Mayor of Seaham. We had St Mary Magdalen’s RC Primary School singing  ‘Peace Child’, followed by the carol ‘It Came upon a Midnight Clear’ sung by all.

Paul Fletcher, Deputy Town Clerk of Seaham Town Council delivered the Reading ‘Moonless darkness stands between’, followed by ‘Silent Night’ – Liturgical Dance performed by St Mary Magdalene’s RC Primary School. The next reading was BC – AD read by Councillor Stan Cudlip Leader of Seaham Town Council, Father Paul Kennedy introduced us to the Seaham Music Academy Choir who sang ‘Starry Night’, Paul then delivered Reflection and Prayer. Seaham Music Academy Choir sang ‘Away in a Manger’, followed by all of us singing ‘The First Noel’.

A collection was taken during the final carol in aid of the Mayor’s Appeal Fund, the proceeds of which will be distributed to community organisations in Seaham. The service ended with an instrumental rendition of ‘Keeping Christmas’.

Following the service we were served with appetizing refreshments in the Church Hall, where Sonia Forster thanked everyone who attended the service and contributed to their Charity Appeal, she then wished everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and a safe journey home.  We in turn, the Mayoress and I, thanked Sonia for the invitation, it had been a pleasure to attend and had a good time listening to the carols and the rest of the service.  


Appetizing refreshments


With the Mayor and Mayoress of Hetton and Mayor and Consort of Seaham Sonia and Bob Forster, ready for a snack


Wednesday 29 November 2017

Attended the opening of the Bistro at The Beeches Care Homes, Greens Lane, Stockton


The Bistro area in the Care Home

It was with great delight to be invited to Beeches Care Home and participate in the opening of their new Bistro area. The Beeches aim is to provide a relaxing and calm environment for visitors to the home, to be able to interact and socialise with the residents when visiting, and felt that a bistro area would be the best idea, as this provides a tranquil area within the home that everyone can enjoy. In the bistro they provide numerous types of hot drinks i.e. tea, latte, hot chocolate and various other drinks, alongside sweet treats for everyone to enjoy.

I welcomed everyone to the Beeches for the opening of the Bistro and thanked Helen Wood the Home Manager for our invitation.

The facilities in the Beeches are a testament to the dedication and hard work of the team, that there is a tranquil area for residents, families and visitors to sit and enjoy a drink and cake whilst having a catch up. The bistro looks wonderful, and I am sure that it will be well used, bringing much pleasure to all the residents and visitors.

A huge thank you goes to all the residents, families and friends, for all their support and input to the new bistro.


With staff at the Beeches Bistro



Residents, family and friends enjoying the new Bistro


Thursday 30 November 2017

Attended the Stockton Sparkles Light Switch-on at the High Street, Stockton on Tees

What a day this turned out to be, it was fantastic to see so many people attending this annual event, the more numbers than any other year, so I’m told, even in the freezing cold, and at times with sleet and rain. The fantastic entertainment, brought lots of laughter and smiles from the crowd throughout the evening.

We arrived at the Town Hall and were met by a group children from the Looked After Service in the ground floor conference room and had a really good chat with them, they were bright and sparky, asking us all sorts of different questions about our Mayoral roles. We also met up with two children from St Patrick’s School, Luke Stott and Ben Appleton, who had been nominated by their teacher to attend, for leading their enterprise team for the last 3 years, and trading at the market on the launch day. Luke has also raised a lot of money for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and Alzheimer’s Society which included a bungee jump off the Transporter Bridge. Very enterprising young men with pleasant and positive attitude.

After a quick hospitality with VIP guests, a turkey bun and a mince pie, we were collected at the Town Hall steps and escorted to our Horse Drawn open top Carriage for the ride of rides along the High Street, to the stage area opposite the Sun Inn.

undefined Welcoming everyone to Stockton’s singing Christmas tree

We disembarked from the carriage and joined our host, Gary, who formally introduced us to everyone and then asked me questions about the Mayoral role in the year. I in turn said the whole journey had been fantastic and was a privilege to meet and speak to so many people of different groups and amazing people in the town and attend the varied events hosted in the town. One of the highlights for me was Stockton being nominated for three Council of the year awards, which no other Council has ever done before. We were runners up in the MJA awards, crowned winners in the Best Service Team of the Year Sports Leisure and Cultural & Service Award, in the APSE awards, and the third nomination LGC awards to be decided in Mach 2018. A ringing endorsement of the can do attitude and strong working commitment of our members and officers of the Council.

We also mentioned what a great special evening the launch of Sparkles brings to the town, with the wonderful atmosphere and entertainment to get everyone in the mood for Christmas. The evening’s entertainment continued with Mike McGrother and the Wild Cats of Kilkenny, along with the Big Voice on the UK’S first singing Christmas tree, with the 60 strong Apollo Street Band clapping and singing to many a Christmas tune.


Switching on the lights

Finally after the countdown of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Luke, Ben, Santa the Mayoress and myself with all hands pressing the red button, the Stockton Sparkles emerged into a fabulous array of lights around the High Street and the Borough, what a marvelous spectacle enjoyed by all.

We paid tribute to our events team who have done us proud once again, providing a first class event, which the many at the event appreciated. So well done to them all, including Mike McGrother and the singing tree with the Apollo Street Band.   


undefined Apollo Street Band – on the singing Christmas Tree


Friday 1 December 2017

Attended the opening of The Boutique at Poppy’s at 8 Silver Street, Stockton on Tees


Cutting the ribbon at The Boutique at Poppy’s

We were delighted to be invited to the opening of a new fashion boutique, just off the town centre. The shop is located next to Poppy’s Hair Salon in Silver Court on Silver Street. The Boutique at Poppy’s adds to Stockton’s Cultural quarter with a stunning collection of women’s items.

It gave me great pleasure to officially open The Boutique at Poppy’s where the Boutique offers items that are unique to the local market, including crafted garments, shoes and accessories, with a great customer service that only an independent retailer can provide.

With many years of experience in the fashion industry, directors Janice Auton and Vicki Murray are using their skills to offer a destination fashion boutique, the first of its kind in Stockton.  They said they got their inspiration by listening to customers and understanding what they wanted, especially clothes for special occasions.  They feel confident that the boutique will be a success in Stockton Town Centre with all the great work being done in partnership by the Council and Stockton Business Improvement District.  


Poppy’s Salon

We wished Janice and Vicki all the success in the world, also thanking them for providing a superb facility for the modern discerning customer.


With Janice, Vicki and other guests – at the opening of The Boutique at Poppy’s


Friday 1 December 2017

Attended the Launch of Norton Advent Calendar Trail at Norton Library, Norton High Street



Start of the Advent Trail outside Norton Library

It was with great pleasure to be at Norton Library, to open the First Window of the Love Norton Advent Calendar Trail around Norton High Street, thus to spread the Christmas spirit and increase footfall to businesses.

We received the invitation, from our chaplain Rev Martin Anderson and Beccy Brown on behalf of the St Mary’s group, to unveil an advent calendar stained glass window and officially declare the Norton Advent Trail open.  St Mary’s Church in Norton has worked with the businesses in Norton and Norton Village Association to create an Advent Trail. 



Carols outside Norton Library



1st Advent window Norton Library

We arrived outside the Norton Library with music playing and Santa engaging with the crowd, walking around and chatting with families, the children dumb stuck at the site of Santa.  Rev Martin Anderson gave an opening speech welcoming everyone to the advent, then introduced the choir who entertained us with some well known carols. Martin thanked the choir for wonderful song and verse, then invited me to say a few words, which I was honoured to do so.

Throughout December visitors young and old will be able to enjoy decorated Advent windows, created by the children of Norton, including the local primary schools, scouts and brownie groups.  Each day a participating store in Norton will be unveiling their advent window and offering some fantastic deals to promote the Christmas spirit. They will also be handing out stickers for people to collect on an advent flier, available at the library, and once they have collected all 24 stickers, this should be handed in at Norton Library to be in with a chance of winning a prize.

The final window will be revealed on Christmas Eve at St Mary’s Church, with refreshments and a special outdoor Carols Service on the Green, where I will be attending at 4.00pm, hoping to see everyone again.

So without further ado I opened the first window, declaring the trail open. As it was getting a bit chilly we all ventured into the library for refreshments and chatted with some of the residents. We thanked Martin and his team for organising the event, giving us the opportunity to be part of the proceedings. We thoroughly enjoyed the overall festivities.


Friday 1 December 2017

Attended the Mayor of Spennymoor Civic Dinner at Memorial Room. Town Hall, Spennymoor


The Mayor and Mayoress of Spennymoor with councillors and friends

We had the pleasure of being invited to the Spennymoor Civic Dinner and Charity bash, in aid of the Mayors charities; 1st Byers Green Scout Group and Spennymoor Mining Museum. We attended with other dignitaries from around the county to celebrate Ian Machin’s civic dinner.


Ian Machin Mayor of Spennymoor -  welcome speech

The Civic Dinner consisted of Leak and potato soup, followed by Roast Topside Beef with Yorkshire puddings after which the desert was Sticky toffee pudding, with tea/coffee and chocolate mints to finish. I was quite full after it all.

Following the Civic Dinner there was a sponsorship auction to support the Mayors Charities, for which participants paid extraordinary amounts to secure the offerings, such as an oil painting of Whitworth Castle, bed and breakfast for two at Ramside Hall Spar and Golf Club, there were also gift vouchers worth hundreds of pounds, an alcohol hamper, a Hoover Vacuum Cleaner and many more. Since they were out of our league in the bid process we stuck with the raffle that followed and again came away without a prize and san fairy ann to that, but we managed to put a brave face on things by doing the light fantastic on the ballroom floor to lose some weight.

After a few rounds on the dance floor with perspiration starting to flow, we retired back to our comfortable chairs to relax and enjoy the evening’s proceedings at a leisurely distance. We thanked the Mayor and Mayoress for a pleasurable evening, hoping the night’s contributions delivered good support for their chosen charities.   


Saturday 2 December 2017

Attended the Cleveland Philharmonic Choir - Christmas Carols at Stockton Parish Church, High Street, Stockton


Stockton Parish Church entrance


It was with great satisfaction that we were invited to ‘Christmas is Coming’ concert at the Parish Church in Stockton. We were a little unsure of what to expect from the evening’s event, as it was the first time that we had attended a Cleveland Philharmonic Concert. But I assure you we were in for a pleasant surprise.

For ease of comfort the old pews of the church had been replaced by comfortable chairs, which was a pleasure in itself as many a time I’ve sat on the hard seats with a numb bum, must be getting soft in my old age. The acoustics of the church were good for singing as the clarity of voice was excellent.

The concert opened with Guest singers from Egglescliffe Senior Choir singing Benjamin Britten’s ‘Ceremony of Carols’, then there were the special guests from Norway – Oslo Voices who sang some traditional Norwegian carols. Following this, the combined choirs sang ‘A child was born’ and ‘Deck the Halls’. The first half ended with Ralph Vaughan Williams, ‘Fantasia on Christmas Carols’. These were performed by The Eaglescliffe School Senior Choir, Cleveland Philharmonic Choir and The Mowbray Orchestra in which the baritone soloist Neil Turnbull performed. It was awesome and needed a cup of tea at the interval to cool my excitement.  


The Mowbray Orchestra accompanying Cleveland Philharmonic Choir


Oslo Voices with conductor Ingrid Hanken.

The second half consisted of only one work, Benjamin Britten’s’ Saint Nicholas’ performed by the Philharmonic choir, Gallery Choir, Eaglescliffe Senior Choir, in which the Junior Choir took part in this piece, and provided the treble soloist – including the three pickled boys! The part of St Nicholas was sung by the tenor Andrew McAllister. The Mowbray Orchestra partnered the choirs, and the concert was conducted by John Forsyth MBE.

I am told the choir is looking forward to the challenge of performing Benjamin Britten’s ‘War Requiem’ at the Stage Gateshead on the eve of the centenary of the World War 1 Armistice, on Saturday 10th November 2018, it was noted that wonderful soloists will also be joining them. Tenor Mark Padmore and baritone Roderick Williams, Newcastle Choral Society, Northern Spirit Singers, Cleveland’s junior choir and the choristers of St Peters Church, Stockton, will be involved in this event. The main orchestra will be led by Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Iona Brown.

After listening to the evening performance which was stunning, it’s a must to keep a date in one’s diary.

If you are interested in forthcoming events contact [email protected] 


Parish church - ‘Christmas is Coming’ ensemble


Sunday 3 December 2017

Attended the Girl Guides Carol Service at St Michaels and all Angels Church, Imperial Avenue, Norton


Rev Martin Anderson – King Herod lighting candles


The Christmas nativity

It was a pleasure to be invited to the Girl Guide Stockton Division Carol Service at St Michaels and all Angels Church in Norton. It was a delight to see the enactment of the Nativity performed by the youngsters and to hear them sing, they had great voices and it really put the Mayoress and me in the Christmas spirit.

Part of the event was also to make charity provisions by bringing along tins of food for those that have very little, to be distributed over the Christmas period. We came prepared with two shopping bags full of tinned stuff which was much appreciated by our host and our chaplain for the Mayoral year, the Reverend Martin Anderson.

Martin conducted the service with the Brownies and Guides singing many Christmas Carols which we all sang along with. Carols such as:

‘O come all ye faithful’

‘O little town of Bethlehem’

‘Away in a Manger’

‘On a starry night’


‘We wish you a merry Christmas’.

The Guides also sang a few modern day carols such as; ‘When Santa got stuck up the Chimney’, ‘Rudolph the red nosed Reindeer’, ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Santa Claus is coming to Town’. 


Mary and Joseph with child and pony

The little girl who played Mary had a radiant smile throughout the Nativity play and I’m sure she didn’t want to give up the child at the end of it all.


St Mary’s Church, Norton. – One of many beautiful stained glass windows


I thanked the Guides and Brownies for their brilliant performance hoping they have a great year and enjoy all the activities that they are involved with. We are all encouraged to see young people still involved in such a fantastic organisation.   I also thanked Martin Anderson and his support staff for delivering a unique event which brought a smile to everyone’s face.

And finally I wished them all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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