Letters, Thursday, December 29th, 2011

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The true spirit of Christmas

GRACE House Children’s Hospice appeal received an early Christmas present when the North East public donated a fantastic total of just under £3,000 in the weeks from November 10 to December 17.

The collection at Clays Garden Centre on November 19 raised £441.46, followed by £351.96 at The Galleries on November 25. While at The Galleries a lovely elderly lady looked me up and down, laughed, put £2 in the box and said: “Hinny, I’m nearly 85 and I thought I’d seen it all, but I’ve never seen a one-legged OAP clown afore. I’m glad I turned out.”

On December 3 my collection at Tescos in Newton Aycliffe raised £482.14, which was a new record for a day’s collection. Several people from Wearside and a couple from Seaham introduced themselves.

On December 7 I was at Asda Leechmere and it was bitterly cold and windy. However, customers’ donations of £353.62 helped keep hypothermia at bay.

On December 10 the customers at Asda, Ryhope, gave a generous £219.11. On December 9 £150 was raised after Dave Pinder and Trev Mitchell allowed me to run a raffle at The Knack Sports and Social Club.

On December 16 more than £200 was donated by customers at Sainsbury’s, Fulwell, then on December 17 all records were broken at Byron Place in Seaham when £552 was given in just over seven hours – a rate of almost £80 per hour. Surely this record will take some beating? Regarding the Byron Place collection, I wish to thank John Brady, the manager, Marilyn of Park Lane Cards for her continuing kindness and generosity and the staff at Argos and Subway for the supply of coffee and free eats. I am so grateful.

Wearing my clown’s outfit continues to raise extra money as well as raising a few smiles. A couple of days before the Byron Place collection I had invested in a multi-coloured clown’s wig to replace my red wig, so perhaps people took a shine to that.

I know I’ve said it before but it is truly humbling being the “middle man” between such a generous public and a desperately needed facility. This four-week period was truly remarkable and I have been privileged to hand over more than £15,000 on your behalf, in this calendar year.

God bless you all.

Jeff Coxon,



Amazing people

I JUST wanted to thank the people of Sunderland. I have been visiting my Nana and Granda and during my time in Sunderland I went to Monkwearmouth Museum and I left my brand new Hello Kitty bag there.

The people were so kind. They kept it safe including all money inside. Thank you very much.

Also I just would like to say how fantastic the magical Mowbray Park is. We had a fantastic time there visting the snow fairy, reindeer and seeing the amazing lights. We have nothing like this in Plymouth. Sunderland is so lucky to have such amazing sites and amazing people. Thank you.

Olivia (aged seven), Plymouth

Special politician

THE passing of Vaclav Havel marks the end of a remarkable period in the history of Bohemia-Moravia.

President Havel was an “accidental politician” who was, notwithstanding, “an implausibly towering figure”. A deeply sensitive, cultured playwright, possessed of an immense intellect, he recognised instinctively that the only way to disempower bullies is to stand up to them.

A worthy presidential successor of Tomas Masaryk and Edvard Benes, he was a clear reflection of his mentor Jan Patocka, who died after a police interrogation. Perhaps at this time one might remember the courage of the resistance heroes Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis who despatched Reinhard Heydrich, the very personification of evil, into eternity; and Jan Palach, the brave dissident of 1969.

As we sing indulgently of Good King Wenceslas, The Feast Of Stephen and St Agnes’ Fountain, we might do worse than remember Vaclav Havel “A brave man who insisted on truth and did not flinch from the consequences” (Times Leader, December 19).  

Perhaps, too, we might echo Horatio (in Hamlet) “Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing three to thy rest”.

George Brown, Sandford Court, Queen Alexandra Road

Blazer puzzle

A FRIEND clearing her parents’ house discovered an old Bedan blazer, black/navy with their yellow, red and blue stripes.

Is is from the boys’ or girls’ school? Her father was in his late 90s and his wife was also an old Bedan.

We would be very interested if any Echo readers could enlighten us.

Also, are there any archives where such items could be stored?

Valerie Twigg, Old Bedan, 1948-55