It’s time to raise a toast to the winners of a competition which centred on a Sunderland hotel.
What a response we got when we asked you to cast your minds back to the days of the Seaburn, which is now well known as the Mariott.
You filled our pages with wonderful reminders of an era gone by – a time when you worked there, went to the sumptuous dances there, or just wiled away some wonderful hours there.
In the end, two winners were chosen for their great reminders of the past and they will each receive a wonderful prize. There’s more details of that prize at the bottom of this feature.
Those two winners are Les Allen, who told us how he once used the town’s four star Marriott as a car showroom.
The top prize also went to former hotel barmaid June Viner who used to be a waitress at the Sunderland venue.
Here’s a reminder of their great stories.
* Les, now 88, is never likely to forget the Seaburn Hotel.
The former boss of a car dealers has the unique claim to fame of once managing to display several Saabs in the hotel ballroom as part of a promotional event. It worked an absolute treat. Les sold six cars that day in 1980.
Les launched Les Allen Car Sales in 1970 and ran it until 1995.
In fact, he was a bit of a dab hand at getting classy cars into Sunderland’s top venues.
As a sales director for an earlier dealership, he also succeeded in manoeuvring an Aston Martin into the foyer of the town’s former Odeon Cinema for the midnight premier of an early James Bond movie.
When he first spoke to us, Les, of Cliffe Park, said he was born in the Howard Arms in Sunderland where his dad was the landlord.
He served with the army in Greece for two years after the Second World War and has lived in the town all his life.
He added at the time: “I have four children, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild, and many happy memories of social and family events held at the Seaburn over the years.”
* June, now 71 and from Westerhope, Newcastle, was an adventurous Sunderland teenager when she persuaded her mum to let her become a barmaid at the Seaburn.
June’s aim was to gain some hospitality experience before going off to work in the Channel Islands. She was invited to work in the hotel bar – the only post available at the time – and spent six months in the public bar and the cocktail bar.
June loved it and told us in a previous story: “I received excellent tuition from the resident barmaid who was then in her 60s and, having been a barmaid all her life, was very experienced. She was lovely, looked after me and taught me well.
“Her training stood me in good stead and, later on in life if I was short of money, I often got an evening job in a bar.”
June had to learn the knack of pouring the draught beer “to get a good head on it and waste as little as possible but also to fill the glass up. Customers soon complained if the glass wasn’t full to the brim but, on the whole they were good natured and enjoyed winding me up so it was usually good fun.”
She proved to be such a good team member that she was invited to become a trainee manager but declined the offer because she still had her sights set on going to Jersey.
They are our two winners and now Les and June each win a lunch for themselves and up to five guests.
But that’s not the only great announcement we have.
Everyone whose stories were published in the Echo will be treated by the hotel to an afternoon tea for two to be taken before the end of May.
Marriott multi property general manager Eamonn Thompson said he never expected the competition would generate so many wonderful memories of the Marriott in its Seaburn days. But we were delighted to receive so many wonderful stories.
* Any readers whose stories about their Seaburn Hotel memories appeared in the Sunderland Echo – should call Liz Codling at the hotel to make their booking for afternoon tea for two. They can do so by calling (0191) 5292041.
The main prizes, to be taken before the end of May, exclude beverages.