Sunderland Empire turns blue as sex of couple's baby is revealed
One of Sunderland's most famous landmarks turned blue as a couple chose a novel and colourful way of revealing the sex of their first child in front of friends and family.
Empire Theatre worker Ashleigh Powell and partner Steve Taylor are expecting a baby in August this year.
Ashleigh was encouraged to reveal the sex of the child by getting the front of the theatre to turn either blue or pink by colleagues at the Empire, in High Street West.
And as they gathered in front of the famous building, it was unveiled that the Ashleigh and Steve, 36, who works for the North East Autism Society, are expecting a boy after the front entrance was lit up blue following a countdown.
Ashleigh, 29, of Ryhope, who works front of house at the theatre, told the Echo: “We only knew about two hours before after going to the hospital and both our mams were aware too.
“All of my friends at the Empire were at work that night so we thought it would make a nice surprise.
“I had the sex of the baby written down in an envelope and it was given over to one of the girls at the Empire.
“She was the only one that knew and then obviously we did the countdown.
“It got a great reaction even from people passing by who were asking what it was about.
“It was a very special moment for everyone who knows us and the colours looked really pretty.”
Ashleigh, who lives in Burdon Crescent in Ryhope, added that she wanted to do the reveal after growing close to her colleagues over the 11 years that she has worked at the Empire.
Ashleigh, who is also a student nurse, said: “In the time I’ve worked there no-one has had a baby, so it’s special for everybody.
“They are such a lovely bunch at the Empire, they’re all brilliant people, and that’s part of the reason why we chose to do it.
“It wasn’t a shock to me that we are having a boy because I feel like I knew all along, but Steve thought we were having a girl!”
Ashleigh and Steve’s baby has a due date of August 1.