Runners on the look-out for inspiration, insight and encouragement are being invited to take part in free sessions.

Community Running Groups are officially launched next Tuesday (March 25) to help people get in shape for the 2014 Middlesbrough 5k Riverside Run on Sunday, June 1.

The sessions are free of charge and are open to all runners of all abilities, even those who have never run before.

I joined the Swift-tees group on Tuesday morning at Hemlington Lake where we were put through our gentle paces by coach Craig Lightfoot. Afterwards I chatted to one of the runners to find out exactly what kind of a difference the community running had made to her life.

Deirdre Forth started running with Swift-tees in 2011

Q: Had you ever run before?

D: No. I didn’t want to run.

Q: Would you have dreamed of doing anything like this?
D: I have never dreamed in my whole life that I would be running. Never. Two years ago I would not have believed where I am today.

I do the parkruns I have done 10ks. 3Ks, 5ks, Middlesbrough 10k and Hartlepool 5 miles now.

Q: And have you met many people through this?

D: The social life is brilliant. Lovely friends, really friendly. I just love coming here. What else would I do I am retired now. I just thought when I am retired I want to get fit but I didn’t like running, I didn’t want to run. My daughter, Sharon, got me involved with parkrun and I walked the first time I went down. I thought I like this but I am never going to run and then 8 weeks into the parkrun I started jogging and then I started running. I didn’t do a full parkrun I ran a bit and walked to a lamp post that kind of thing and then I got involved with a little group called the I runners and they encouraged me and supported me tremendously and then I started running from thereon and I have been going ever since. And then I joined the Swift-Tees last year and I’m here now today and I am hoping to do the Edinburgh Half Marathon. That is an ambition of mine to do a half marathon this year, whether it will be Edinburgh or Redcar I hope to get there this year, that is my ambition. I hope I fulfil it.

Q: Are you fitter than you have been for a long time?

D: Gosh. When I go down to Whitby I make a point of going up the 199 steps without stopping. Whereas before I was only going up a few at a time and stopping and getting my breath. It is a great achievement for me from where I was to where I am today. And it is all through the encouragement and support of Swift-tees and parkrun.

Q: Can I ask you whether you have lost any weight?

D: I have lost 4 stone. I hope to get another half stone off but I am not desperate to lose it but it is a milestone for me if I get there.

DeirdreQ: So is it fair to say that you hadn’t run at all until you were in your 60s.

D: No I used to work nights and I was quite fit through pulling pallets around doing manual work in the warehouse where I worked but then they brought in folk lifts and I was sat on my backside and I put on the weight then and I was just so unfit and unhealthy and I couldn’t walk without huffing and puffing. I just couldn’t keep up and it wasn’t like me at all. I was just so miserable and down about it and I thought when I retire I will do something about it and that is what I did.

I love walking. I walk all over the moors now and everywhere. I walk up to about 6 miles when I go out. I love walking but I like the running as well.

Q: Your whole family are involved aren’t they?

D: My whole family are involved in Swift-tees and parkrun. They are all now keeping fit. Even my daughter in Ireland goes kayaking. My nephew in Australia does the parkrun out in Perth, he and his wife. I have got them doing marathons and triathlons. But over here, my daughter, Sharon Caddell is the Director of Stewart Park parkrun. My grandson, Donovan, did the Albert parkrun at the age of 3. We go there most Saturdays my husband and I Fred. Fred is a marshall and we are there 8o’clock on a Saturday morning to help set up the course for the parkrunners then I either marshal, run or do tail running, encouraging and support people around. And it is a lovely friendly place. I love it. I love the social side of this as well.

Swift-Tees meet on a Tuesday morning at 9.30 we run or walk or jog around HemlingtonLake and then on Wednesday night we meet around 6.30pm but it is more intense because some of the faster runners do interval training and pretty good they are, they have done quite a few marathons and half marathons between them.

On Wednesdays some still walk around the lake. If you want to walk or want to run we are not compelled to do certain laps in certain times it is all about getting us fit and active. That’s what people like.

Q: And your aim is to do a half marathon this year?

D: Yes I want to do it. So, fingers crossed that I get it done.

Community Running Groups meet –

  • Tuesdays, 9.30am: first session Tuesday, April 1, meet at the Habinteg Community Centre, Cresswell Close, Hemlington
  • Wednesdays, 6.15pm: first session Wednesday, April 2, meet at the Habinteg Community Centre, Cresswell Close, Hemlington
  • Thursdays, 6pm: first session Thursday, April 3, meet at the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, Stewart Park

Anyone can come along. All abilities welcome.

For those bitten by the running bug, the sessions will help pave the way to a training programme for the popular Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10k Road Race which returns for its tenth edition on Sunday, August 31.

The two races have proved a magnet for local runners, and continue to grow in popularity with many not just aiming for a personal best time but also raising money for great local and national causes.

Councillor Nicky Walker, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “The Riverside Run and Tees Pride 10k are now recognised as among the best runs in the region, and attract thousands of runners to Middlesbrough from far and wide – and we want as many people as possible to feel able to take part.

“The Community Running Groups are open to all, and offer support, advice and training partners to help people prepare for the Runmiddlesbrough events.

“It’s a great opportunity to train alongside qualified coaches at any of the three following weekly sessions, and is just the incentive people need to get started and stick to a training schedule.”

For further information about the sessions or to register, contact Scott Hydon on 01642 515625 or email

For further information, training plans and to sign up for the Runmiddlesbrough 2014 races, visit




Runners – and walkers – of all ages and abilities are being invited to do their bit for good causes in this year’s Runmiddlesbrough Charity Challenge.

And to give them some inspiration, local charities and their mascots gathered at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.

The ground is once again the start and finish point of the 5k Riverside Run and 2k Fun Run which this year takes place on Sunday, June 1. So you can have your own grandstand Olympic style finish in the Riverside bowl.

The popular route takes runners past many of the town’s most iconic land marks including the Transporter Bridge, MiddlesbroughCollege, the Middlehaven Dock Clock and Temenos. Thankfully it is very flat so not too many slopes to work against.

On the day, runners have a rare opportunity to warm up on the Riverside’s hallowed turf, as well as finishing the route with a lap around the pitch cheered on by friends and family.

And for those bitten by the running bug, it’s the ideal springboard to get in shape for the ever-popular Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10k Road Race which returns for its 10th edition on Sunday, August 31.

The fast circular route takes in Acklam Road, Ladgate Lane, past the new Middlesbrough Sports Village on Marton Road, Marton Burn Road, Emerson Avenue, Green Lane, Acklam Road again and finally Hall Drive. It is a route that is permanently marked out with kilometre signs, helpful if you want to build up by training on the route itself.

The races have proved a magnet for local runners, and continue to grow in popularity with many not just aiming for a personal best time but also raising money for great local and national causes. And last week local and national charities joined forces to encourage more Teessiders to put on their running shoes to raise cash for a good cause in the flagship runs.

Charities hoping to benefit from this year’s Runmiddlesbrough events include lead charity the MS Society, the Mayor’s charity the South Cleveland Heart Fund, the MFC Foundation and Daisy Chain.

Other charities asking for support include Zoe’s Place, Teesside Hospice, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Macmillan Cancer Support and Diabetes UK.

Councillor Nicky Walker, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “The Riverside Run and Tees Pride 10k are now recognised as among the best runs in the region, and attract thousands of runners to Middlesbrough from far and wide.

“The runs are a huge thrill for those taking part, and every year many good causes benefit from the efforts of runners of all ages, sizes and fitness levels.

“Once again the Charity Challenge highlights some of the charities taking part and encourages local people to get involved, have a great experience and raise much-needed funds for the charity of their choice.”

For further information, training plans and to sign up for the Runmiddlesbrough 2014 races, visit

Photos Tracy Hyman


ACAS HR for Beginners workshop

I organised and attended the ACAS HR for Beginners workshop which was a full day workshop split into two half days on 4th and 11th March at Middlesbrough Football Club.

The event attracted around 20 delegates from a variety of business sectors who were keen to learn more about Human Resources to adapt to their business.

The course covered a lot of good practice from recruitment and selection and contracts of employment to managing discipline, absence and ending the employment relationship.

The speaker provided delegates with a ‘tool kit’, which consisted of sample job descriptions and different policies, in which the business could take away and adapt to their business models.

There were also various exercises throughout the session which kept the delegates engaged and there was always an opportunity to ask questions.

We received some excellent feedback from the delegates and we are looking at putting on similar workshops in the future so watch this space…

Employers and employees can gain support information via the ACAS website at any time –


Calling All Tees Schools Help Revive WW1 Songs

Tees Valley primary schools are being challenged to take part in a musical project marking 100 years since the start of World War I.

The project will culminate in up to 300 schoolchildren singing tunes from the epic musical “Oh What a Lovely War!” in a special concert and narrated performance at Middlesbrough Town Hall on July 3.

The musical’s famous tunes include “Pack Up Your Troubles”, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” and “Keep the Homes Fires Burning”.

Already on the frontline as one of the first schools to sign up is St Bede’s of Stockton, whose choir are busy practicing for the big day.

St Bede’s teacher Jo Jones, who leads the choir with teaching assistant Dawn Purton, said 17 of the school’s pupils are eagerly looking forward to learning the songs for the special occasion.

She said: “We didn’t have to think twice before agreeing to take part in the project. It’s such a valuable musical experience for the children.

“The Benjamin Brittan schools concert that Middlesbrough Council organised last year was fantastic, so we are looking forward to this year’s event being even bigger and better.”

Newport Primary in Middlesbrough and Yarm Primary have also signed up for the concert but organiser Rebecca Topping of Middlesbrough Council is calling on more Tees Valley schools to step forward.

She said: “As we approach the centenary, many schools are studying aspects of the Great War, so this is a great opportunity to incorporate a musical element to enliven the children’s learning experience.

“’Oh What a Lovely War’ is full of uplifting, fun songs that are easy to learn, so it’s perfect for children, even those who haven’t sung before. It’s ideal for school choirs or those schools who just want a project to get their teeth into.

“With all the participating schools taking part, the concert at Middlesbrough Town Hall promises to be a fantastic occasion. Best of all, the whole project is free!”

The concert takes place in the main hall of the Town Hall – itself celebrating its 125th anniversary – at 4pm on Thursday, July 3. Tickets will be priced just £3 each for the children’s family and friends, as well as members of the public.

All participating schools receive free resources that include sheet music, lyrics and a backing CD to support their practice, while singing leader Emily Smith is also available to hire if required.

There is also an opportunity for older children who play instruments to perform with local professional musicians as part of the orchestra.

Schools who would like to sign up for “Oh What a Lovely War!” can contact Rebecca Topping at

Jo Jones chatted to me about what participating in the concert will mean for the school and the children.

“It is a fabulous opportunity for them to be a member of a big community event. That is what I really like about it. It is giving the opportunity to be able to be in something on such a large scale because usually if they do something in the school it is very small, though lovely but a small occasion. It is nice for them to be able to sing with other children from different schools.”

I asked Jo whether performing in Middlesbrough Town Hall makes a difference.

“It is a huge performance in the town hall and we know from last time with Benjamin Britten performance that they absolutely loved it.” Joe told me.

“They were buzzing last time. As soon as Rebecca said that they were going to do something else again. I didn’t have to think about it.”

I wondered whether this will be educational as well.

“They will be learning all about World War 1 in school anyway and this just gives another dimension to their learning.”

History made fun.

I then quizzed Middlesbrough Council’s Rebecca Topping about the background to the summer event.

Q: You are making an appeal to get lots of children from lots of schools on board.

RT: Absolutely, the more the merrier.

Q: Tell me a little about the concert.

RT: This project is WW1. The background to the project is that we try to get the schools together to celebrate music. So, get more kids involved singing or playing instruments. So we are doing this project and getting as many schools as we can to learn the songs that we will provide the music for and the lyrics. They learn them in their own schools and then they all come together in the Town Hall on 3rd July to sing them and hopefully we will have some musicians there and a conductor and it is just a great experience for the kids to get up on the stage with a lot of other people. Hopefully we are having the Middlesbrough Town Hall Community Choir involved as well; there are usually about 100 of them. So they will support the children in the songs because there are quite a lot of songs involved.

Q: What songs will the children be singing?

RT: Songs from the musical Oh What a Lovely War. So it is some of the songs from there, not all of them because there are quite a lot in that musical. So there about 17 songs, some of them the children will learn by themselves, some of them they will just learn the choruses for and some of them the adult choir will just do by themselves. So, it is a bit of a mix. It is not going to be a production of the musical as such it will just be a concert version. We will have a narrator telling the story interspersed with songs from the children. It is not just fro schools that already have singing groups or choirs it is also an opportunity for any school to get involved and even start singing for the first time because we can also provide a vocal practitioner, a singing leader to go into the schools, for a very reasonable price and teach the songs to the children before the concert so they can join in as well. So it is completely accessible to all children.

We are encouraging them to get dressed up in WW1 costumes and we will have bunting and flags. We will have a cake. It will be a really great concert and all their friends and family can come down too for a small charge. It is just about getting the children to have as much fun as possible and also they will learn a lot about WW1 as they go along with the teachers because they will learn a lot about the songs in context, the stories surrounding the songs and why they were singing them and things like that. So they are learning as well as having fun.

Schools who would like to sign up for “Oh What a Lovely War!” can contact Rebecca Topping at

 Photos Tracy Hyman





Boro Academy stalwart Ron Bone and Middlesbrough-born former football star Robbie Blake were among the special guests as work got underway to transform a thriving junior football club’s basic facilities to an impressive new clubhouse.

Thanks to the support of football charity Lionsraw, work is set to begin on the new £418,000 facilities of Middlesbrough-based Cleveland Juniors FC through major funding from the Football Foundation and Sport England, together with companies RWE Dea and px Group.

Following a ground-breaking ceremony to formally get the construction work underway, Cleveland Juniors will have facilities to be proud of by the time next season kicks off after years of using a storage container as changing rooms,

The clubhouse will feature changing rooms, showers, toilets and office facilities, while Lionsraw has also helped to secure the club’s long-term future with a 25-year asset transfer lease of the team’s Mill Hill pitches in Acklam from Middlesbrough Council.

Once further funds become available, future plans for a second phase to the building work feature kitchen facilities and a function area.

Interview with Lionsraw CEO Jon Burns.

Q: Tell me about this project?
JB: Lionsraw has always been about mobilising football fans to community action at home and away. When we were away in South Africa (last World Cup) we had two lads from round here, sat talking in a bar, saying wouldn’t it be great to do something back at home in Middlesbrough. So, Pete Butler who is a coach here and Dave Wilkie who worked for a big oil company they came to me and said can we do this back at home. Three years later we’ve built the partners together, raised the money, committed ourselves for the long term to Cleveland Juniors and just trying to help them build a home for their own.
Q: Do all your ideas come from either a chat at a football ground or in a bar?
JB: Have we met before (laughs). Every good lionsraw story starts in a pub. No it does because that’s who we are, that’s who we are wired with. Some people never get lionsraw and we will never convince them of it but footy fans get it. They get the power of football, they get the opportunity to mobilise fans and so on the whole we are having a chat in a bar and something happens and X years later here we are.
Q: Because this is not just football this is going to be the heart of a community isn’t it?
RB: Absolutely right. The bottom line is I adore football but football isn’t it, transformation is it. We have been helping kids sexual health in South Africa because we don’t want them to get Aids and die. Football is just the tool. In Brazil we are working on drug education through football and some English education to help them with their job prospects. Again football is just the tool, it is fabulous, it is powerful but it is a tool for transformation that is what it is.
Q: Because you realised there are an awful lot of England fans going over to tournaments and they had time on their hands between matches.
JB: Exactly. I was actually in the riot in Charleroi when it all went off in the France World Cup. Four years later I was in Japan and we organised a little football school with some kids in Japan. And I started thinking this is much better than Charleroi. Then by the next World Cup we were doing official projects. We have got projects coming out of our ears now. Australia next year for the Asia Cup, the year after we will be in France, Marseilles for the 2016 Euros and this year obviously in Brazil. We always do the away thing so it messes peoples’ heads and hearts up, so when they get back they commit to the local which is the long term stuff.
Q: A lot if us remember the profile you had working in South Africa on tv etc. But it is great you are also working in Middlesbrough where you are from.
RB: Absolutely. Home and away. But what I have noticed is if I go and ask a mate can you help me out with a local Cleveland Juniors project they Oh I’m too busy, too busy. If I say come to Brazil with me for 2 weeks of the World Cup they are like… We are there. When they are there we mess them up and they come back and say what could I do in my community? Kerching. So I have this thing called displacement theory, take people out of their normal environment, mess their heads and hearts up and then plug them back in.
Q: So what will you actually be doing out in Brazil this summer in 100 days time? I remember four years ago the vision was to get a lot bigger.
RB: Yes, well it is getting a lot bigger. We have got 240 Australians, 150 Americans, 100 English, 20 South Africans and about 100 local Brazilians. There will be 500 of us and we are doing a few things. There will be 12 Soccer schools across some of the favelas in a city called Curitiba but then the main project, just like Cleveland Juniors there is a thing called Rui de Futebol, they work with all the street kids and again they have wanted a home of their own for ages. We have got the council doing asset transfer, just like here. And we broke ground last week on a massive football centre which we will be building and all will be complete by the end of September. So we have two exact parallel projects going on right now in Teesside and Brazil.
Q: That is fantastic.
JB: Isn’t it fantastic. Very excited.