Boro’s Stuart Parnaby – Signing for Christmas

Three Boro players have had their pens poised in MFC Retail each Wednesday afternoon at 4pm in the run up to Christmas signing Boro Christmas gifts but will any of them buy a Boro onsie like Kei Kamara or go on to score on a World Cup stage?

Last week’s trio included Stuart Parnaby. The likeable Durham lad might no longer be first choice right back but he certainly knows all about achieving the heights. And as Boro’s least likely scorer he will be forever linked to our European adventure. He also has grown an amazing Movember tache.

Q: Have you enjoyed meeting the fans?
SP: Yes it is always nice thing to do, especially with Christmas coming up, people getting presents. It is nice to put a smile on people’s faces.

Q: Are you eyeing up anything. Kei Kamara bought a Boro onesie.
SP: That doesn’t surprise me. Ha ha. I have got a baby on the way so I might get something from the baby section.

Q: How have you found the new manager?
SP: Yes he has settled in really well. It is a week in now and we have had 6 or 7 sessions with him. We can see the way he wants to do things and the lads seem to be enjoying it. It is pretty intense. But it has been good so far.

Q: It will be Karanka’s first game at home v Bolton and £12 tickets so it should be quite an occasion.
SP: Well, I am lucky to have seen The Riverside at its best and when it is, it is a tough place for anyone to come. It is a great thing to have the cheaper tickets helping everyone out. It will help people to come and help the lads on the pitch so it can only be to our advantage if the place is full and he’ll appreciate it and I am sure the lads will as well.

Q: That game is against Bolton which brings back memories of the cup final and big nights at the Riverside in Europe to follow.
SP: Yes that is right. And it will be a good game to win. We know no game is easy.

Q: I always thought in the Premier League that we were quite similar clubs.
SP: Yes. Very similar. And we played them in the cup final but we pipped them in that and so hopefully next week we will get another one over them.

Q: Following the cup final we had the two seasons in Europe and my outstanding memory of you is your goal at Stuttgart.
SP: It was one of the best moments of my life. Stuff like that you don’t forget.

Q: That was a World Cup Stadium against a top Bundesliga club.
SP: Yes it was an unbelievable stage to score especially in a competition like that and I was still only young. I will never forget that memory.

Q: Am I right in saying you played at just about every age group team for England and all over the pitch in different positions?
SP: I signed for Middlesbrough when I was 9 and went all the way through and played for England at every level and you are right in pretty much every position. I didn’t play striker or goalkeeper.

Q: Except for when you got in the box and scored in Stuttgart.
SP: Yes. So it is good to look back on what you gave done and achieved and I might not have played as many games as I would have liked over my career but in them games I have achieved quite a lot. My body has let me down a few times but that is part and parcel of it. That’s just what you dealt. I don’t moan about it, I just get on with it and try to enjoy my football and when I get the chance enjoy it.

Q: Let’s hope this could be a start towards bigger crowds.
SP: Obviously you don’t want to look too far ahead. You have got to give him time to build how he wants to work and it’s going to take time to develop into his style wise, the Spanish have different ways of looking at football. It is going to take a while before we probably see exactly how he wants to play and how we are setting up as a team but it will be good to see it. Already in training you can tell the stuff we are doing is a little bit different to what we have done so hopefully it will get us results on the pitch. Which is the point isn’t it.


Stuart on right of Jonathan Woodgate and Richie Smallwood


Parkrun for Charlotte Wren Forget Me Not

On Saturday there was a special parkrun at Stewart Park, Marton. The runners gathered as usual up near the Captain Cook Birthplace museum at 9am but on this Saturday they were first addressed by regular Stewart parkrunner Mike Wren.

Like many of the runners Mike was dressed in a luminous yellow Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research running shirt. This parkrun was dedicated to the memory of Mike’s daughter Charlotte who died so tragically young at the age of 3 but in whose name the Charlotte Wren Forget Me Not fund fights on against blood cancers.

“This morning’s run is for the Charlotte Wren Forget Me Not fund. It would have been Charlotte’s 10th birthday yesterday. Today marks the living of a special life.”

Deidre Forth had been organising a raffle for several weeks for the Charlotte Wren Forget Me Not Fund (Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research). Councillor Brenda Thompson who volunteers every week at Stewart parkrun and Albert parkrun director Alan Guy were both present offering their support. Mayor Ray Mallon drew out the raffle winners. Some great prizes there were too, although none found their way in my direction. A total of £318.64p was raised including the raffle, stall and bucket collection.

There were banners and a gazebo in the park staffed by friends and family braving the November morning in red Leukaemia & Lymphoma t-shirts. We runners were given encouragement each time we lapped the encampment in our 5k exertions.

After the run and after I had got my breath back I asked Mike to tell us something more about the charity and about the event.

“The Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research fund was set up in Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough in 1960. In 1960 the chance of surviving leukaemia was 1%. Now with everybody’s donations the fund is worth £300m and there is a 90% chance of a cure.

In Charlotte’s memory we are running today to remember those who we have loved and lost and to those who are fighting the blood cancer that has taken far too many children and we’ve got a chance through running and through people’s stories to make a difference and we won’t stop until we beat blood cancer.”

Charlotte and his wife, Claire wrote to the parkrun website to give their thanks for the donations and also expanded on the aims and successes of the Middlesbrough based charity.

“Charlotte’s Fund with LLR aims to make treatment for little people fighting blood cancer to be less painful, less invasive and ultimately to find that elusive cure for all!”


Discover Middlesbrough

This year’s Discover Middlesbrough Festival has been a great success, engaging with a wider audience than ever before with over 40 varied and diverse events and exhibitions on offer during the three week period and with over 4,000 attendees.  For the first time this year the events covered the half term holidays, allowing more events for a younger audience.


New event providers in 2013 include Percy Middlesbrough, Brasserie at Hudson’s Quay, RSPB Saltholme, Boro Bookworm, Myplace, Larchfield Community, Dundas House, Fairy Dell and Hemlington Lake.

As a result of this year’s Discover Middlesbrough two events are set to become annual events, the Hemlington Lake Handicap and the Captain Cook Birthday Relay.

One of the success stories of the festival was our partnership with the North East Film Archive to organise a screening night at Middlesbrough Town Hall called ‘Middlesbrough on Film’.  The trailer alone was a massive success with thousands of views around the world, reaching over 150,000 people.

Here are my Top Ten Highlights

1) nefa film screening evening at the Town Hall, over 430 people attended and the trailer for the event received thousands of views online from all around the world.

2) Percy Middlesbrough – Middlesbrough’s very own scrap store gave workshops on how to make things out of materials unwanted by local businesses.  Christmas wreaths and snowflakes were created over a cup of tea and scones.

3) William Lane Foundry – they have recently uncovered a very early furnace so were able to show visitors this historic find as well as the process of metal casting

4) Dundas House rooftop tour as part of the open studio event  – as well as seeing behind the scenes in artist studios the rooftop tours enabled visitors to gain a unique view over Middlesbrough from the top of Dundas House

5) 1913 walk taking us back in time to Middlesbrough in 1913 and the days of the docks and the many pubs of old Boro

6) Acklam Hall opening as part of the sold out Magical Mystery Bus Tour – where as well as a rare look around the interior of Middlesbrough’s only Grade 1 listed building, Acklam Hall Ltd could show off plans for the future

7) Pumpkin Carving at Stewart Park as part of the half term activities there and at the Dorman Museum

8) Electric Kool Aid Cabaret bringing an eclectic night of music, poetry and spoken word to Westgarth Social Club

9) Classical Café at Middlesbrough Town Hall

10) William Tillyer exhibition opening at mima and Platform A

William Tillyer launch

Martin Peagam - 1913


Middlesbrough Artwork Shines at Lumiere

A touch of Teesside was added to Lumiere in Durham this year with the help of Middlesbrough’s Twist Design.

Lumiere6844Three Robin Reliants have been turned into pieces of art, their windows replaced by stained glass windows depicting local North-East heritage, the Lindisfarne Gospels, royalty and popular culture icons such as Amy Winehouse.  They are situated in three of the park and ride car parks, bringing the art out of the city centre and bringing it to the very start of peoples’ Lumiere journeys.

Twist Design were one of the winners of the BRILLIANT competition, a design competition for local North East artists ran by Artichoke, the company behind Lumiere.  Anyone based in, or originally from the region was given the opportunity to submit an idea for an artwork made of light.  There were 80 proposals in total and from this Twist Design was one of 4 projects selected for development into actual artworks at this year’s Lumiere.

Twist Design speak to Artichoke about their designs below:

There is also a BRILLIANT blog that talks about the finalists in more detail, including the various processes that the artists went through to get from the idea of the design to the reality of making it happen.  The link below shows how the amazing stained glass windows were made, not quite how you might think.  The cars themselves were sourced using the internet, but actually ended up coming from Marske-by-the-Sea and Billingham.  The glass was made by Creative Glass in Stockton and the breaker’s yard in Marske helped renovate and paint the vehicles.

Pictures here were taken at the Howlands Park and Ride, but there were two other amazing Robin Reliant transformations at two other sites.

Lumiere6839 Lumiere6843


Entrepreneurs Forum – Talking Teesside

The first Entrepreneurs Forum event held in Teesside was hosted last week by Middlesbrough Football Club and what an inspirational event it turned out to be.

With over 80 businesses in attendance the forum treated us to a high profile panel of speakers including Alastair Waite CEO of Onyx, Bill Scott co-founder of the Wilton Group, Steven Bell formerly of Bells Stores, Stewart Smith chairman of Ramsden’s Financial and Jo Hand founder of Jo Hand Recruitment.

With a real Teesside focus, these successful entrepreneurs gave the audience a real insight into the ups and downs of starting a business from nothing and turning it into a multimillion pound venture, the decisions they made and the key to success.

We also heard about the good work of Middlesbrough Football Club’s Football Foundation which aims to engage adults and children from the local community in educational programmes. This can range from physical education programmes in primary schools to social inclusion activities to engage young people from across the area. For more information see

The Entrepreneurs Forum was created in 2002 by a group of the region’s leading business people to share knowledge, inspire and create opportunity within the business community. It was a fantastic introduction to the Entrepreneurs Forum in Teesside and hopefully will be the start of many more exciting events to come. For more information see