Letters, Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

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Let me run with the Olympic Torch

I AM no fan of the soaps. I never have been. However, I did catch a glimpse of Eastenders a few days ago and one of the cast, Billy Mitchell, has entered a competition to run through the streets of the fictional town of Walford carrying the Olympic Torch.

As soon as I saw this storyline, I thought: Wow! This would be a spiffing idea if the same thing could happen on Wearside.

As a man of the people and a role model, I believe that I would be the perfect choice to do this.

OK, I have downed a few bottles of champagne when I have been cruising around the world with my caddy and I have dragged on the odd Cuban cigar over the years, but I am in reasonable nick and own a top-of-the-range Slazenger tracksuit and a white towel to wrap around my neck, so I would like to throw my hat in the ring if this idea was to take off.

I would receive the torch at Penshaw Monument allotments then hastily dash through Pennywell and Pallion, not even stopping for breath at the Aldi store in St Mark’s Road.

Well-wishers and Echo readers would provide refreshments as I made my way past the secondhand good shops in Hylton Road, across the Queen Alexandra Bridge towards the coast.

I would imagine that the biggest cheers would be received from the crowds of women in headscarves and Scholls who adorn the steps of the Southwick bingo hall, eternally grateful for my support in the past.

Finally I would make it to the coast and hand the torch over when I reached Morrisons store, providing I had avoided being mown down by a boy racer along the way.

I do hope this letter catches the attention of the Olympic Committee.

Mick “The Pen” Brown

Stroke care centre

I AM one of 216 volunteers for The Stroke Association in the North East supporting over 4,300 stroke survivors and their families.

I am writing to share some fantastic news about the charity creating the UK’s first Life After Stroke Centre.

As volunteers, we provide support to people after their stroke. This can involve supporting stroke survivors in a variety of ways, from helping them learn to communicate again, to getting on the bus, to making a family meal.

We work with stroke survivors to help them become more independent and help cut down on the social isolation that so many of them face.

Most carers also rely on us for a bit of respite, allowing them a bit of time for themselves – even if it is a couple of hours a month.

Volunteers underpin the vital work of The Stroke Association and this new centre will ensure that all volunteers, like me, are able to learn new skills and better support stroke families.

I know the charity still needs help to achieve this goal, so visit the website (www.stroke.org.uk/newcentre) to find out more about the centre and please make a difference.

Steve Hogg, Volunteer for The Stroke Association

No tree ‘vandalism’

IN answer to Andrew Robson’s letter of June 4, alleging council “vandalism” to trees in Mowbray Park, may I point out the true facts?

He is referring to the row of cordyline australis in the beds on the south terrace. They were planted some years ago as part of a summer bedding scheme but were left in to see if they could survive our warmer winters, which they did until last winter’s extreme cold, which severely damaged them.

They have been cut down to encourage them to grow again from the base, which happily they are doing.

I would like to encourage Mr Robson, and any other readers with a genuine interest in Mowbray Park to join the Friends group.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, July 19, at 6.30pm in Committee Room 4 at the civic centre.

We hope to see you there.

Elsie Ronald, Secretary, Friends of Mowbray Park

Tourism office

MANY contributors to the Letters Pages rightly lament the inertia of Sunderland City Council. When it does take action, however, it becomes apparent that such action is often myopic – as seems to be the case with regards to the decision to move the Tourist Information Centre.

Why move what I have always regarded as a pleasant and well-placed little office and shift it next to a billboard offering to dispense advice to those who think they may have an STD?

The council’s head of culture and tourism, Chris Alexander, may or may not be right when he says that no negative consequences will ensue from this. But, as I say, I cannot see any real justification or necessity in moving what was an attractive and well-situated building.

One could be forgiven for thinking that those running the show at Sunderland City Council seem determined to ensure that Sunderland remains a one-horse town.

Wesley Crossland, Dovedale Road, Sunderland

Fun in the park

I WENT to the Diamond Hall Pocket Park first event. It was really good and it had lots of things to do.

These activities were Connect Four, football, face painting volleyball and space hopping races.

As well as these activities there was free squash, bubbles and even free fruit.

On the slabs of stone we could make hats. I did that and it was excellent.

I was overjoyed that work should start soon on the Pocket Park. I am just hoping that it will be completed before I go to my comprehensive school, Thornhill.

Lynette Steel, 11, Sunderland

Honest finder

ON a recent visit from London to visit my family in Sunderland I left my wallet in the Bridges car park. It was, however, handed in, with everything intact, by a lovely lady, Angela Willis.

I would like to thank her sincerely for being such an honest and trustworthy person.

Gordon Donkin, London

Financial help

THE latest figures showing a steady increase in unemployment levels among the over-50s are a real cause for concern.

The financial impact of unemployment is apparent, as older people struggle to survive and some are forced to retire before they are ready, and without having made adequate provision for the future.

Yet, as well as the more obvious financial effects of their situation, many over-50s find their self-esteem knocked by long-term unemployment and can be reluctant to ask for support.

Our own survey, published in April, revealed that eight out of 10 older people are not claiming pension credit to which they are potentially eligible, which for many can make all the difference.

In the current climate, it is more important than ever that older people check their entitlement to benefits and other financial support.

We strongly urge people in financial need to use our free and confidential service – www.turn2us.org.uk – to ensure they are receiving the benefits they are entitled to and look at the support that charitable funds can offer.

Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us, London

Search Party

I AM looking for a Michael Hardy, aged about 60 or late 60s. He lived at Mainsforth Terrace West, Hendon, Sunderland. His dad was called Michael and he had a brother, David.

He used to go out with Miss Janet Vickers from Langley Park. I lost contact and would like to get in touch. Thank you.

Janet West, 56 Lavender Gardens, Sacriston, County Durham, DH7 6PR

I AM looking for information on Sonya Anne Gilroy (nee McNamara). She is believed to be working in Sunderland Royal Hospital. Please tel. 01946 813381.

Robert Gilroy