We’re ready for you, ma’am – Sunderland prepares for the Queen’s visit

Coun.'s Mel Spedding and Harry Trueman enjoying at 1980's day ta Roker beach at the Jubilee Exhibition with l-r Reagan Gibson, Alice Goldsmith, Ella Gray and Caitlin Scott all pupils at Southwick Primary School.
Coun.'s Mel Spedding and Harry Trueman enjoying at 1980's day ta Roker beach at the Jubilee Exhibition with l-r Reagan Gibson, Alice Goldsmith, Ella Gray and Caitlin Scott all pupils at Southwick Primary School.
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A WARM Wearside welcome awaits Her Majesty tomorrow as the final touches are put to a unique exhibition.

Sixty years of Mackem memories will be displayed to the Queen as she visits the Diamond Jubilee Exhibition at the Port of Sunderland.

Yesterday workers were putting the final touches to the exhibit which covers each decade of the royal visitor’s reign.

A team of about 60 people have been helping pull together the milestone moments containing memorabilia donated by Wearsiders.

Working hard inside the massive white marquee is artist Molly Barrett.

She is one of three designers who created the exhibition, working alongside Verity Quinn and Kate Eccles.

They searched the internet, trawled the Echo’s archives and watched old footage from the Northern Regional Film Archive for inspiration.

“The 1950s is a really fun decade that’s come back into fashion a lot now and we had a lot of fun with the 1960s furniture,” she said.

“I think it is really important to look back and take stock and look how far we have come and say yes, this is good.”

Chris Alexander, head of tourism and culture at the city council, said the event was much more than just an exhibition.

“It is really more of an experience.

“We are hoping it is something people have not experienced in Sunderland before. We want to take people on a journey.

“We want people who have lived through these decades to look at things and touch things that were part of their own lives and it is also about introducing a generation to things they did not personally experience, but perhaps their grandparents might have told them a story about what it used to be like living in the city.”

The Queen is due to arrive at about 9am tomorrow. Also enjoying the event will be Wearsiders celebrating their diamond anniversaries.

Seven couples who this year celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary will sit down with Her Majesty for a VIP brew, along with school children from Southwick.

It will be the second time former serviceman James Whatcott, from Town End Farm, will have met the Queen.

The 80-year-old was a lance bombardier with 463 Regiment Royal Artillery and formed part of the guard of honour when the monarch came to Sunderland in 1954,

The veteran met wife Sylvia on the steps of Sunderland Museum. They married aged 20 and went on to have three sons, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

He said: “We’re both very proud and excited to be meeting the Queen.”

Twitter:@janethejourno