Letters, Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

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No one listens to the invisible man

TO my surprise there was an old man staring at me from my mirror this morning. I hadn’t noticed him before. Why should I? No one else seems to see him.

Do you have white hair, no longer clock 100 yards in under 11 seconds and struggle to be noticed? You do. It will gradually dawn on you that you are invisible to younger people, inaudible and unnoticeable in every way.

Waiters will forget your order, attracting the barmaid’s attention, even in your own local, will demand mental and athletic prowess worthy of a gold medal, but you learn to accept that people neither see nor hear you.

While it may dent the ego, it is no tragedy to be overlooked by a barmaid. It is, however, catastrophic that a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears politicians, with little or no experience of real life, business, or even a sense of history, drag this country deeper and deeper into the doldrums while we wait to be heard.

For instance, during the local elections recently, while I polished my 10-year-old gas guzzler, this car-mounted loudspeaker glided by, urging all and sundry to vote a certain way. Dropping the polish, and hands reaching for the sky, I trotted beside the candidate’s car, seeking a chat but failing to attract their attention.

The gentle trot escalated into a sprint. At one point I thought that they were going to blank me altogether. However, they were obliged to halt at the junction. The driver’s window inched down, revealing their first acknowledgement of my existence with the semblance of a grin from the driver. “What do you want?” asked the grin.” “Well, I had wondered what you had in mind for my future so why didn’t you stop?” “We knew that we had no chance of turning you.” The window clicked shut, the grin disappeared and the loudspeaker continued with its message “Vote ...”, leaving me flabbergasted.

Not knowing the author of this little rant is the owner of a bus pass, the candidates in question may condescend to read it only to be surprised to learn that they got it all wrong that morning and lost two votes that were already theirs.

So there you are – white hair is invisible to local politicians and barmaids but MPs listen to no one. Heaven help us, but not too soon.

Denis Gillon, Sunderland

Share memories

MY name is David Hiscocks. I am running a history and memory project based in the North which will culminate in a book. My hope is to interview veterans and relatives of veterans and, by doing so, showcase the importance of preserving their memories for future generations. My belief is that everyone’s memory should be preserved.

Therefore, I am looking for anyone with a connection to any branch of the armed forces who would like their memories (military and social) preserved.

If you would like to be involved, call 07546 444557 or email, david.hiscocks@googlemail.com and I will send you a simple questionnaire to complete and return.

I am especially interested in veterans who served after 1965. I am also interested in interviewing anyone who has participated in cadet forces etc.

A proportion of any profits from the book will be going to the British Legion. By getting involved you will be helping veterans today and educating tomorrow’s generation.

I look forward to hearing from anyone who is interested.

David Hiscocks

Bring troops home

LAST month six soldiers of the Yorkshire Regiment, my regiment, died in Afghanistan, to add to the total of this unwinnable war. The Afghans are a major warrior tribe going back many years and longer –this war has lasted 10 years.

It is clear it is not making the world safer – 120,000 Russians could not do this in the past, and others have tried.

Also, as a member of about the greatest forces and ex-forces charity, the Royal British Legion, whose motto is “service not self”, I have always upheld that, but now it is time to be more verbal and advise any veteran and/or member of the public to consider for only £2 buying the booklet by Stephen Bell, preface by Paul Flynn MP, on the 10 reasons why the troops should come home now.

Bill Craddock, Donvale Road, Washington

Public pensions

CITY lecturers joined civil servants on the picket line. Comparing yourselves with MPs will not wash. We all know that MPs live in another gravy-train, bloated-expenses world.

Public sector workers are going to have to pay more into pensions and work eight years longer. They completely overlook the fact that they have better working conditions and pensions than the private sector, which in the main pays for public sector pensions.

People are living many years longer than previously, and those who are working have to pay, by taxes, for many more people than before. Where is that money going to come from other than from those who are working?

Teachers and lecturers, do the maths.

Marjorie Matthews, Millfield, Sunderland

Charity’s help plea

THE British Heart Foundation (BHF) is the nation’s heart charity. We have been seeking people to join our volunteer network in the area.

We just couldn’t do our vital work without their support and that is why I am writing to thank them.

The BHF is dedicated to fighting heart and circulatory disease and supporting families affected with this debilitating disease. We always look for new volunteers and we hope that more of readers will feel inspired to join our lifesaving charity.

The BHF has lots of different roles to suit the time people can give, from a few hours in a local store to putting on a fund-raising event. Volunteers could even become campaigners and help to deliver better heart health services in their community.

Giving a hand to the BHF is easy and fun as well as being extremely rewarding. So why not be inspired by visiting bhf.org.uk/volunteer and listen to why some our volunteers give us their valuable time.

Chrish Perera, Head of Volunteer Fundraising in the East Midlands and North of England

Election thanks

I WOULD like to take this opportunity to thank the electorate in the Sandhill Ward who voted for myself and Debra Waller in the local elections.

This is the first time I have stood as a candidate in an election and it is a great honour to represent a ward for the Labour Party.

I would also like to thank everyone who supported us with the campaign work leading up to the elections.

I look forward to to getting to know the residents and the community better and will do all that I can to the best of my ability to make the Sandhill Ward a more harmonious place to live.

I look forward to working with and for you. Please feel free to contact me on 07584429503 or email cllr.mary.turton@sunderland.gov.uk.

Coun Mary Turton

AS the Labour candidate for St Michael’s Ward at the recent local elections, I would just like to thank everyone who came out and voted for me, as well as friends and family who helped me with the campaign.

In a short space of time I met a great many of you and it was brilliant to hear all your positive comments and ideas for the city.

I lost to a respected and long-standing councillor, and I hope Margaret Forbes continues to serve the people of St Michael’s well for the next four years.

I will continue to work hard for Sunderland and am busy with a number of projects which will have a big impact on the ward and the city.

Again, thank you all for your support. I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Chris Johnson

COULD I say a big thank-you to all the Millfield Ward residents who voted for me in the recent local elections.

It has been an honour representing my local community over the past six years and I would like to thank everyone for their fantastic support.

Paul Dixon

Search Party

I’M trying to research my wife’s family tree and came across a photo of five sisters, who we believe to be called Nicklin.

They lived in or around the Southwick/St Columba Church area around the turn of the 1900s onwards.

We think one is my wife’s grandmother, Margaret Ellen Nicklin, born in 1900 to George Henry Nicklin and Bethia Thompson.

We would like to hear from anyone who has the names of the other sisters or any information would be welcomed and most appreciated.

David Cooper, Email: warfydave@yahoo.co.uk

I AM seeking information on my late grandfather, Ralph Cox, who was born around 1892 in Sunderland.

He lived at the age of nine with his mother Sarah and his stepfather William Pollard and stepbrother at 164 George Street, Jarrow.

In 1914 he married Eleanor Jane Elizabeth Johnson, then in December 1915 my mother, Catherine Margaret, was born at 6 Ward Street, Sunderland.

I would like to find out about my grandfather’s whereabouts and life from 1915 onwards. Have we kin that we don’t know about?

If anyone can help, please contact us. Thank you

Email: catherine_wee@msn.com