Looking Back: Wearside’s bonniest babies of the past 40 years

CUP WINNER: Sunderland's Bonniest Baby of 1984, Claire Louise Richardson, of Hylton Road, who was chosen from an original entry of 1,000.
CUP WINNER: Sunderland's Bonniest Baby of 1984, Claire Louise Richardson, of Hylton Road, who was chosen from an original entry of 1,000.
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Every year the Echo crowns a new child as our bonniest bairn. Cara Houchen takes a trip down memory lane as she takes a look at past winners in a bid to find out where they are now.

TO celebrate more than 40 years of bonny babies we’ve dusted off the Echo archives to see how the competition has changed through each decade.

But we’re not going to stop there – we want to know where these bonny bairns are now!

The competition started in August 1971 as part of the Wearside Summer Exhibition, and those first smiling entrants will be over 40 years old now.

And each year a new bonny baby has been crowned.

In 1978 the overall winner was Alayne Elizabeth Towers, from Grindon, who apparently stole the show.

Then into the 1980s adorable Mark Thompson, from Ryhope, got his little hands on the trophy in 1983.

In the 1990s cute kids such as Dylan Purvis, in his bright blue outfit, got the judges’ attention in 1992.

Echo Chief Photographer Kevin Brady has been taking pictures of Sunderland’s cutest kids since the early 1980s and he’s certainly noticed some big changes.

“The competition used to be part of the annual Sunderland Carnival and all the children and parents would take their place in a marquee waiting to be judged,” he said.

“The panel always consisted of a dignitary such as the mayor, and the Sunderland Echo women’s writer at the time, Sue Snow, was also a judge.”

He added: “All the babies have changed over the years, from what they wear to their names – now we have more exotic names but I’ve definitely noticed some of the more old-fashioned and traditional names have come full circle.

“It’s always been a popular competition and I think it’s because every parent is proud of their bairns and they like to see them in the newspaper.”

So if you were one of our bonny babies all those years ago, or if you know someone who was lucky enough to get their hands on this prestigious title we want to hear from you.

But first take a look at some of our favourite photographs from past competitions – we think you’ll agree Wearside babies are a cute bunch.

** If you were or know anyone who was a bonny baby email cara.houchen@northeast-press.co.uk or call 0191 501 7259.