Panel choose shortlist of names for Sunderland's New Wear Crossing
It's almost time ... to name the bridge.
Sunderland’s £117million New Wear Crossing is nearing completion – and now the time is right to give it a name that will last for years to come.
The people of Sunderland are being invited to play their part, with the final choice going out to public vote ahead of the crossing opening in the spring.
An independent panel made up of Sunderland people and members of the business community met at the bridge site recently to draw up a final shortlist of three possible names.
We will reveal those later this week and members of the public will be able to vote on-line and using a form printed in the Echo.
Keep an eye out on social media for #namethebridge.
The option which attracts the most support will become the official name of the New Wear Crossing.
It is hoped the new name will reflect the city’s history and reputation as an enterprising and innovative place, while also making a statement about the city’s ambitions and aspirations for the future.
And with the bridge designed and built to last at least 120 years, its new name must also be able to stand the test of time.
Black Cats legend Jimmy Montgomery was delighted to be invited to join the panel.
“It is an honour,” he said.
“I am Sunderland born and bred – I have lived all my life around this area and seen it develop.”
University of Sunderland graduate Dominic Murphy is founder and MD of IT firm Geek Talent, which works to match businesses and employees.
“It is a privilege to be asked,” he said. “All the engineering careers that have been started here, all the different jobs that have gone into building the bridge, that is a big part of what we do.”
The youngest member of the panel was 17-year-old Lucy Robinson, from Moorside, who is one of the city’s Tall Ships Race ambassadors.
“I am really happy to be here,” she said.
“It’s so rewarding for me to be here as part of this, with all these people who have made such a difference to Sunderland.”
Paralympic gold medal swimmer Matt Wylie said: “I feel quite privileged to be here. The bridge is one of the best things that has happened in Sunderland.”
One member of the panel has a very personal link to the bridge – civil engineer Amy Wright, part of the construction team on the New Wear Crossing site.
“It is very satisfying to see it nearing completion,” said Amy, 27, from Fatfield.
“I am really proud to have been part of it.”
Work began on the New Wear Crossing – Sunderland’s first bridge across the River Wear in more than 40 years –in May 2015.
It is Phase 2 of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor, which aims to improve links between the A19 and Sunderland City Centre and the Port of Sunderland.
The new bridge will also open up land for regeneration along the south side of the river, help to create jobs, and reduce congestion around the city.
Sunderland Echo managing editor Gavin Foster said: “It was great to get together with some of Sunderland’s most influential people from a variety of backgrounds and sectors.
“We had an open and frank discussion and listened to constructive comments.
“We didn’t consider these names lightly and we’re hoping the people of Sunderland will take at least one of them to their hearts and come forward and vote.”
Lucy Robinson is currently in her second year of A-level studies in history, politics and maths at St Anthony’s School, where she was chosen as head girl earlier this year.
In 2018 Lucy will be participating as a Sail Training Ambassador in the Tall Ships Races Sunderland.
Gill Courtney first started working for NatWest Bank in roles including general banking, securities and lending and sales and marketing. In 1995, she left NatWest to join the University of Sunderland, where she managed several European-funded projects involving collaboration between industry and education.
She joined the family firm at Wessington Cryogenics and is now director along with her brother Paul Rowe. Designing and manufacturing cryogenic tanks for a diverse client base ranging from the US space agency NASA to CERN, home of the large hadron collider project, its customers also include energy giant Halliburton, the producers of the James Bond films, and teams taking part in world balloon races.
Matt Wylie claimed gold in the S9 50 Freestyle classification in the pool at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. He is also a European Gold medallist and holder of multiple British records.
A brand ambassador for Nissan and a Sunderland ambassador, he was awarded the MBE in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list for his services to swimming.
Dominic Murphy is founder and MD of Geek Talent, whose vision is to match education supply with labour market demands and close the UK skills gap once and for all.
Prior to founding Geek Talent, Dominic was an IT Transformation lead for a Swiss bank and Big 4 consultancy, helping advise on technology and people-related strategy and investments covering Business Intelligence, regulatory reporting and software delivery.
Ram Ramanathas is the project development manger at Young Asian Voices in Hendon and the BME network.
Young Asian Voices (YAV) believes in working for the equality of opportunity and social justice for all people in Sunderland, irrespective of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation and cultural background.
He is a qualified youth worker and sports coach, and really enjoys working in the community and taking part in sports coaching. Ram is working alongside I.M.P.A.C.T Northeast to work with its youth council and deliver work in the community.
Amy Wright works as a senior site engineer at building and civil engineering contractor Farrans, and has worked on a number of major projects across the North East.
Along with her holding a successful career, Amy works as an ICE regional education co-ordinator for the North East, supporting young people in school find out more about working in the sector. Amy has also been named as one of the UK’s top 50 women in engineering.
Gavin Foster is the managing editor of the Sunderland Echo and sister titles the Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail.
A former pupil of Red House School, he went to Sunderland College and took a media degree at the University of Sunderland before entering journalism as a trainee reporter at the Echo in 1997.
Dad of two girls Gavin is the North East chair of the Society of Editors and in his spare time has also enjoyed a successful sporting and coaching career at international level in karate – still passing on his knowledge and experience to youngsters and adults alike.
Jimmy Montgomery The man who made the greatest save in Wembley history needs little introduction.
Black Cats legend ‘Monty’ was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to football in the Queen’s birthday honours list two years ago.