Letters, Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Have your say

Astonished by response to letter

LAST month I wrote about the PE teacher who bullied me at school. I suspected that other people suffered similar experiences, but I’ve been astonished at the letters you’ve had from the older generation with their own sad stories.

They’ve probably kept silent about it for a long time.

Don’t get me wrong: there has to be discipline in schools. I have no grumbles with any teacher who punished me whenever I misbehaved.

In fact, the one who caned me the most was the one I respected the most, because he was a good teacher who got me though the 11-plus exam. But the school kept a punishment book to record that canings were done properly.

This is very different from the casual and random violence I got from this PE teacher.

You got picked on every lesson. The slaps, the punches, the fear he’s going to lose control and do you serious damage – it was hellish.

I won’t budge from my view that a decent headmaster would not allow this to happen in his school.

What annoys me is that after they retire, these men are held to be pillars of the community and pretend they did a lot of good for young people.

It would be good if you could sue the education authority, but it happened so long ago now, you’d only be robbing the council tax payer.

Bill Higson, Ormonde Street, High Barnes, Sunderland

Before you vote ...

SINCE the last local elections in our city the Letters Page has carried complaints on many services, whether it is from pressure residents groups or individuals and not many praise what the council has done.

You have published the list of candidates for the May 5 elections with the choice of open votes as well. I cannot speak for other city areas, but here in Washington it has thrown up some interesting paper candidates.

I say paper, as there have been more public consultations on services like police, the aged, health and well being etc, and before residents vote in one ward, at least try to find out if any of these candidates, and I can think of two at least, have ever attended any such consultations for approximately three years in the respective wards they wish to represent.

Democracy as we know it in today’s Coalition Government means changes would be a step back, at least with certain minor issues like criminality and bankruptcies.

We can all stand legally but do not take up the offer. Millfield Ward, about the smallest, has the most candidates (five). Democracy is wonderful in our country. Conflicts for freedom are happening now in the world.

B. Craddock, Donvale Road, Washington

What our city needs

NOW we can all see why the Labour Party doesn’t want Coun Wilson to stand for re-election – it’s because he is living in the real world.

We need people like Coun Wilson and the likes of Niall Quinn and Paul Callaghan to be part of our city if we want things to happen.

It’s a hard fact of life that you have got to spend money to achieve things in this world. People are far too quick to criticise and very slow to give support to people who truly want to make a difference.

We have got the busiest bus interchange outside of London, so we keep hearing, but what do we have to offer all these people? And as for Coun Kelly’s comments on the lights at Seaburn costing the council money, does the German market at Christmas and the monthly farmers’ market at Park lane not cost the council money? Of course they do, and it’s what the people of Sunderland want.

That is part of the council’s role, is it not, providing its people with what they want?

What they don’t want is the Port of Sunderland declaring an annual loss of over £1million every year for the last 15 years. That’s over £20,000 a week of council tax payers’ money.

Maybe if the older councillors concentrated on what has been losing us money for years on their watch and left the regeneration of our city to the younger or newer councillors, then we would see a big difference.

Lord Anthony Griffiths


IN his latest attempt at scaremongering, Bob Price pours scorn on the Government’s proposal to lift the state pension to £140 per week (Letters, April 6). I note he does not comment on the current increase of £4.50 per week and compare it to the 75p awarded under Labour.

He goes on in his letter to refer to an imaginary “Ministry of Misinformation”.

This is rich coming from a man who wrote the following in a letter published on October 23, 2009: “Well, it appears the worst kept secret is out – the Tories, if elected to power, will freeze the minimum wage and thousands of people will see their pay packets reduced as a result”.

Well, the truth is out and this has not happened. In fact the minimum wage is to be increased again from October.

It is also worth noting that thousands of people will be taken out of the tax bands altogether, helping the lower paid across the North East.

Coun Alan Wright, Conservative, St Chad’s Ward

Ships sell-off

ONE of the last North East-built ships, the 16,160-tonnes RFA Largs Bay, has now been sold as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, alongside other well-known North East-built ships

HMS Ark Royal, RFA Fort George and Largs Bay were built at Swan Hunters, Tyneside, alongside her sister ship Lyme Bay.

Launched in 2003 and leaving the Tyne in April 2006, she was one of the newest ships the MoD owned.

Manned by 64 British merchant seamen, her main role was the transportation of troops, equipment and vehicles, with the embarkation of helicopters and Royal Navy personnel.

Carrying in excess of 500 when deployed, she was part of four bay-class ships, her “sisters”, Mounts, Cardigan and Lyme, being commissioned for the same use and to this day still in service by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

With a top speeds of 18 knots (21mph), in her short service life the vessel was deployed for South Atlantic and Falkland Islands patrol in 2008.

She also played a major roll in UK Aid 2010, taking vital supplies to earthquake-hit Haiti, not to mention being used as a platform at international airshows.

She is now in the process of been passed on to the Royal Australian Navy, purchased for the bargain price of 100million Australian dollars (£65million).

Along with the loss of other British auxiliary vessels Fort George and fleet tanker Bay Leaf, this means the Royal Fleet Auxiliary is in disposal of up to 350-400 personnel through the Voluntary Early Release Scheme.

If personnel targets are not reached then compulsory release will be inevitable.

Lets just hope RFA will be safe from future cuts as a lot of key personnel live in the North East.

Being originally from the East End with a seafarer and shipbuilding family background, I just hope we can keep some sort of North East shipbuilding heritage alive in the region or in our city,

Seeing the Adelaide being used as a training and heritage site on the Wear might be the first steps of keeping hold of what we should be proud of before she goes to the land down under.

Ian Parkin, Sunderland

Search Party

I AM researching my family history but have hit a brick wall.

My maternal grandmother was Mary White, nee Dixon, born in Murton. She had seven brothers (one named Walker) and one sister named Elizabeth (Lizzie).

Her parents were Robert and Mary Dixon (nee Dixon). They married on September 14, 1886. I have a copy of their marriage certificate, so I know Robert’s father was Thomas Dixon and Mary’s father was Robert Dixon.

This is where my problem begins. I’m trying to unravel all the Dixons who live in the Murton/Seaham area because Robert, Thomas and Mary Dixon are such common names.

If I have the right families, Thomas was married to Mary Dixon, nee Richardson, and they had nine children – four boys and five girls.

Mary’s parents were Robert and Elizabeth Dixon, maiden name unknown. Mary had two brothers, Robert and Thomas.

I know the names of my grandmother’s brothers and sister but it’s their parents and grandparents I’m looking for.

If anyone can help I would love to hear from them.

Joan McGuire, 17 Alder Close, Hetton DH5 9LG, email: joanmcguire@btinternet.com Tel. 07796 356926

IF there are any descendants of James Smith, who in 1854 was living at 60 Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, could they please contact me?

He was a mariner, first mate of a ship carrying coals to London from Sunderland.

I would very grateful for any contact. My telephone number 01460 221244.

Matthew Jones