They dared to dream - and the dreams came true for these Wearsiders

Glebe School students on their trip to London.
Glebe School students on their trip to London.
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Here’s two great reminders of times gone by and we hope it launches a thousand memories.

We’re wondering who remembers going to London with the Sunderland Echo in 1979 as part of the Go With the Echo campaign – or getting to launch a ship.

Andrew Rowland who got to launch the SD 14 Thai Binh after writing to the Go With The Echo campaign.

Andrew Rowland who got to launch the SD 14 Thai Binh after writing to the Go With The Echo campaign.

Or maybe you got to go to another venue under the campaign which encouraged people to write to the paper, and tell us all about their dream – hopefully to see it come true.

Here’s a reminder of two of the Go With The Echo events.

One was Andrew Rowlands, from South Hylton, who got a very different experience.

The nine-year-old achieved his dream of launching a ship when he pressed the button to officially set the new SD 14 Thai Binh on her way from the Austin and Pickersgill yard.

They were the model of good behaviour. Indeed, Michael Woods, British Rail information officer who joined the trip, said they were the best behaved school party he had ever encountered.

Echo reporter, 1979

It was a 15,000 ton cargo liner which towered above him, but that didn’t stop Andrew from having a great time.

The Echo made his dream come true when we got in touch with Austin and Pickersgill, whose chairman Derek Kimber offered every co-operation.

Derek also got the consent of the ship’s Vietnamese owners for Andrew to launch it.

Andrew was chauffeur-driven to the venue, met Austin and Pickersgill bosses and was fitted with his own yellow helmet before doing the duties of a VIP.

What a day it was for  Andrew Rowlands.

What a day it was for Andrew Rowlands.

As the Echo said at the time: “He pressed the button and watched the Thai Binh slide gracefully into the water to the sound of tug sirens and cheers.”

A 90-minute tour of the shipyard followed.

Another Go With the Echo project saw 14 youngsters head for London.

They were all from class 6 at Glebe School in Houghton and they were Stephen Gardner, Lesley Paul, Andrew McMahon, David Robertson and Alison Sparks.

The group also included Ian Kelley, Angela Rankin, Margaret Rowe, Wilfred Hall, Kevin Stoker and Keith Watters.

Completing the group were David Estell, Paul McClean, Gary Baines and not forgetting the two teachers who were on the trip – Ann Elliott and Maurice Alderson.

Were you one of that group? Get in touch and let’s share the memories. Or perhaps you got to enjoy one of the other Go With The Echo projects.

The Echo reporter at the time remembered one particular thing about the students who went to London – they were the “model of good behaviour”, he said.

“Indeed, Michael Woods, British Rail information officer who joined the trip, said they were the best behaved school party he had ever encountered.”

None of the Houghton youngsters had been to London before and the Echo reporter said: “Seeing the sights through their eyes was a great treat.”

The day’s fun started with a journey on the Underground. Soon after, the party was enjoying a tour down Regent’s Canal on an old long boat which had once been used for cargo.

Our report at the time said: “Part of the trip goes through the London Zoo and here animals, munching away, gazed at us as we – munching away at a delicious basket meals of salad – gazed back.”

The long boat set down the intrepid travellers at a point near the zoo entrance and then it was on to Oxford Street using yet another form of London transport – this time the famous red bus.

The whirlwind trip continued to Buckingham Palace where the children “gazed in awe at the guards in red tunics and black busby hats – and searched in vain for the Queen to appear at the windows”.

Next came a chance to take in a London park and a spot of relaxation in the sunshine of St James’ Park.

Then it was off to Westminster for a view of the Abbey and the Houses of Parliament before turning up Whitehall to Downing Street.

Our reporter said at the time: “Mrs Thatcher was at home but unfortunately she too declined to appear for us. So we moved on up to Whitehall to Horse Guards in time for the dismounting of the guard at 4pm.”

As the day’s proceedings came to a close, there was just enough time to feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square and to gaze up at Nelson’s Column.

Do you remember Go With The Echo and did you get to enjoy one of the experiences?

Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk