Saying Hi-de-Hi to Paul and hello to the Diddymen

What more could you ask for from a Sunderland event.

Sunday, 23rd June 2019, 3:50 am
Ken Dodd in full flow at the gala.
Ken Dodd in full flow at the gala.

Take comedian Ken Dodd, add in some Diddymen, sprinkle some Hi-de-Hi into the mix and you’ve got a winner.

The appearance of two star comedy acts happened at the Herrington Burn YMCA Gala in 1983 and officials reckoned thousands of people turned out to watch them.

It was a two-day event with Ken Dodd and his Diddymen appearing on the Saturday in a slot which lasted for four hours.

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Doddy entertains the crowds at the Herrington Burn YMCA Gala.

As well as performing, Doddy spent a long time signing autographs for his adoring fans.

The fun continued a day later when Paul McShane did his Hi-de-Hi act to an equally appreciative crowd.

Chris Jones was the YMCA organiser at the time and he said the two-day event had fulfilled all expectations with thousands of people enjoying a huge range of attractions.

“The only problem we have now,” he added at the time, “is to shift about 40 tons of litter from the showfield.”

John Wallis, 9, from Gilley Law, got a ride on the barrel of a 105mm field gun belonging to the Northumberland Field Regiment.

The whole event went off without a hitch and that was partly down to the support of local organisations which had helped to make the gala a great success.

The money raised, which was thought to have been a profit of about £7,000, was expected to go towards YMCA work in the area.

It would especially be used to help with youth unemployment in the area.

Some of the attractions on show back at the 1983 gala included a 1920 John Fowler Road Locomotive called Providence, which was driven by its owner, Benjamin Stafford from Houghton.

All dressed up as Diddy people were, left to right, Donna Hamilton, Cindy Godfrey and Joy Adamson, all from Philadelphia.

There was the unusual sight of John and Emily Rowland arriving in their Bond Minicar, which was powered by a chain driven 197cc engine. It went on display with other vintage vehicles.

And of course there was those dressed as Diddypeople to honour the celebrity.

Were you there and do you remember the weekend of comedy stars on Wearside?

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