Letters, Thursday, July 21st, 2011

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Have your say

Great ideas to revive town park

I ATTENDED the most recent meeting of the Friends of Rectory Park (Houghton) and was amazed to find that the attendance was full to capacity. These meetings have always been well attended, but in the few months since I last attended I was delighted to see so many new faces.

A really lively meeting took place with some excellent ideas put forward to breathe life back into the old park.

Alex Scullion has come up with an idea to recreate a working blacksmith’s shop as part of a package which he has proposed to run in conjunction with a tea shop/cafe/ice cream parlour on a commercial basis.

This in conjunction with the tithe barn restoration plans, which propose to include a heritage centre, will really help to give back some of Houghton’s lost character and individuality.

He fielded contributions from the floor and promoted a concept of a park along the lines of the fabulous Preston Park in Middlesbrough, and got me thinking there could be a very good case to seriously think about using the rectory itself as a historical centre. It is no longer to be used by the council and I’m sure that it would be a welcome use for a redundant building.

There has been a burgeoning of history groups in and around Houghton in the last decade, with a flourishing Houghton and Surrounding Area History Group, the Friends of Copt Hill, the Friends of Houghton Hillside Cemetery and Hetton Bogs Group, plus quite an array of individual local historians who would, I am sure, jump at the chance to have a local heritage centre to store their artefacts and display their items of interest and even sell their publications perhaps?

A play area of some description was also mooted and I was immediately transported back to the 1950s when a trip to the park was an interesting and welcome diversion from the adult business of shopping. For my own children when young, a trip to a play park was always a treat.

Virginia Gatherer, Meadow Lane, East Herrington

Football louts

IT is not too late for the football authorities to introduce legislation to punish loutish behaviour before the start of the new season, especially for encroaching on the field of play as was witnessed at Darlington recently.

A points deduction would surely act as a deterrent and should be announced in advance to prevent the pitch invasions.

Newcastle United have a history of this. In an FA Cup match against Nottingham Forest in 1974 and a play-off game against Sunderland in 1990 the crowd invaded the pitch as their team was losing.

There appears to be a new generation of black and white fools that get into a frenzy when they go into a two-nil lead against a local non-league side in a meaningless pre-season friendly.

Either this is their first experience of a live football match (most were barely adults, to be fair) or it is a myth that the “Geordie” nation can hold their ale.

Football does not need it.

Dave Hegarty, Houghton

Couple’s thanks

BOB and Mandy Richardson would like to thank everyone who helped them celebrate their Ruby Wedding and renewal of their wedding vows at St Andrew’s Church, Roker, on June 12.

Our heartfelt thanks to Canon John Ruscoe who performed our original wedding service and came out of retirement to deliver a superb service 40 years later. Also many thanks to Keith Donkin, Tracey and staff of the Roker Hotel for overseeing both receptions to perfection.

Thanks to everyone who helped in any way, especially donations in lieu of presents to Grace House and St Benedict’s Hospice in memory of our best man Billy Thompson, and all the cards, presents and flowers received.

We feel very blessed to have such wonderful relatives and friends who made our special day complete.

May God bless you all.

Bob and Mandy Richardson, Sevenoaks Drive, Hastings Hill

Shocking shopping

I’M a 64-year-old man who was born in Ford Estate and until I got married lived in Sunderland. I have lived in Washington for the past 40 years.

The point I am getting at is: do the people in Sunderland not see what a state Sunderland shopping centre is declining into? Just look at Vine Place. In fact once, you leave the Bridges, there is nowhere to go shopping.

Look at Blandford Street. It’s an insult to be seen there unless you’re looking for a charity shop. As I have said, I live in Washington, a town that is going forward. I hope people who plan the route of the Metro come to the rescue of my beloved Sunderland people and direct it to Washington, so they can enjoy doing shopping at The Galleries, which puts Sunderland centre to shame.

Des Burton, Sunderland and Washington lad