Stewart Park Defibrillator Unveiled

Stewart Park (Middlesbrough) defibrillator was officially unveiled on Saturday morning before the weekly parkrun event. Thanks to the efforts of Swift-tees community running club and the generosity of the public the park will be a safer place from now on.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop did the honours, flanked by the chair of Friends of Stewart Park, Councillor Town Mawston, Chair of Swift-tees Michael McCann, the instigator of Swift-tees and the public appeal, Rosanne Lightfoot, also representing major donor Boro, was Head of UK Recruitment, Gary Gill and Pete Richardson Parkrun North East Amabassador.

defib-launchThe light rain and early start didn’t put off a crowd of onlookers, many wearing running club colours, Swift-tees blue and NYMAC black being to the fore but others were also represented. This was a gesture from the running community to help make Stewart Park safer for all.

defib-1-copyThe public appeal was launched by Swift-tees community running club at the start of December and such was the grip on the public imagination that the £1600 total needed was realised in less than 4 weeks.

A launch event at Stewart parkrun in early December saw Swift-tees members take over all the voluntary positions at the every popular parkrun all dressed in medical attire. There were £500 + donations raised on that first day. Boro Head of Recruitment and parkrun fan, Gary Gill donated a signed Boro shirt raffled for well over £300 at the Swift-tees Christmas party.

The defibrillator is secured in its casing on the external wall of the Captain Cook Museum and today a first of several session was held by North East Ambulance Service in training in CPR and defib-use for up to 100 regular park users and Askham Bryan College staff based in the park. Anyone will be able to use the equipment and it could potentially be a life saver for someone struggling at any age. The courses however will enable park regulars to have a better grounding, understanding and practical experience and therefore confidence in dealing with crisis.

Swift tees Community Running club is based at the Habinteg Centre behind Hemlington shops. The community comes first for this very welcoming and award winning group. People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to run, jog or walk at a level they are comfortable with and enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit and a chat about it afterwards.

The appeal was the brain wave of Swift-tees founder Rosanne Lightfoot. It was so successful that she hopes to follow up with a defibrillator for the many leisure users around Hemlington lake. The users now include a junior parkrun held on a Sunday morning around the lake and very popular in Gary Gill’s household.

Parkruns are going from strength to strength these days. It doesn’t matter where you are in the country at 9am on a Saturday morning there will be a growing band of people lapping their local park for a distance of 5km. Stewart Park had its record attendance of 354 in mid January and there were almost 500 runners bringing the New Year in around Albert Park on January 1st, a record for the Linthorpe park.

Nationally, parkrun are aiming to get defibrillators as close as possible to the weekly runs . Recently a runner colapsed at Clumber Parkrun in the East Midlands and was revived by volunteers and other runners using a brand new two week old defibrillator and CPR. This brings home how defibrillators and CPR can be a matter of life and death.

The new device is a community public access (cPAD). The vandal proof cabinet is fitted with a combination lock and the code will only be available when a 999 call placed to North East Ambulance Service. An ambulance will then deployed at once and the code given to allow the life saving equipment to be used.

The North East Ambulance Service will return the defibrillator back in its cabinet with a new code and ensure it is maintained and there to save lives in the popular park. As Rosanne said on Saturday morning hopefully it is never needed but we can all feel more safe and secure in the knowledge that Stewart Park now has a defibrillator.


Memories of Middlesbrough Exhibition at The Python Gallery

The Python Gallery in Middlehaven hosted the launch of the new ‘Memories of Middlesbrough’ Exhibition on Saturday 21st January, showcasing photographs of the town from bygone days and bringing memories flooding back for dozens of visitors. Founded in 2012, the popular Facebook group has tens of thousands of members, has already exhibited at the Dorman Museum and even produced its own calendars. Dr Tosh Warwick, Middlesbrough Council’s Heritage Development Officer attended the event to encourage visitors to share memories of Middlesbrough Town Hall as part of the #MyTownHall HLF project and also caught up with Memories of Middlesbrough founder Sue Martin to find out more about the group and exhibition.

My Town Hall memory packs at Memories of Middlesbrough exhibition at the Python Gallery

Approaching The Python Gallery, visitors are met with a combination of Middlesbrough past, present and future. The venue is surrounded by iconic buildings dating back to the days of the ‘ Ironopolis’ . A stone’ s throw away from the Gallery, housed in Royal Middlehaven House, is Middlesbrough’ s first (Old) Town Hall, dating back to 1846. Other illustrious neighbours include the former offices of the town’ s early founders at Queen’ s Terrace, Henry Bolckow and John Vaughan’ s former Cleveland Buildings residence (Plenary), and the adjacent Cleveland Club (Gibson House, Boho Four), all recently refurbished and adorned with newly-installed blue heritage plaques produced as part of the HLF-supported Tees Transporter Bridge Trail. Looking to the north east towards the recently renovated Tees Transporter Bridge, there are further signs of regeneration in the form of the new Transporter Park opened in 2016.Inside the venue, the TP Coffee House and Café caters for the local businesses, tourists and visitors to the various exhibitions held in the gallery.

The ‘ Memories of Middlesbrough’ Exhibition brings together work showcasing some of the stand out images which have featured on the popular Facebook group. The growth of the Memories of Middlesbrough’ s page and group, founded in 2012, has been phenomenal.In less than five years the group boasts some 30,000 ‘ likes’ and members, an expansion outpacing even the famously rapid growth of the Victorian‘ boom town’ on which its content is focused. Members includes thousands still living in and around the town, but also those no longer based in Middlesbrough scattered across the globe as far afield as Australia, South Africa and U.S.A.

It is clear the exhibition and group is about more than just old photos of the town, with Sue explaining her inspiration for Memories of Middlesbrough was her own love of the old buildings, her own photos of the buildings that were still in the town, and a realisation of some of those that no longer exist. There is a sense of a community coming together to reminisce, share and showcase their memories of the town in bygone years, with the founder eager to point out that the Exhibition is the result of contributions from members of the Facebook group.

Transporter Bridge

The ‘ Memories of Middlesbrough’ Exhibition reflects the wide-ranging interests of the group, spanning instantly recognisable landmarks including the Transporter Bridge, the Old Town Hall (featured in Sue’ s favourite image in the Gallery) and Middlesbrough Town Hall, to those lesser known parts of Middlesbrough’ s past. Middlesbrough Library, Lowcocks lemonade, the Dolls Hospital, Dorman Museum, children playing on an abandoned car in Cannon Street and the cannon in Albert Park all sit alongside each other to provide fascinating snapshots of Middlesbrough’ s heritage. The images prompt memories and exchanges amongst those in the gallery, just as the online platform has done so successfully.Visitors share coffee with new acquaintances and friends made as a result of membership of the group.

There are hopes for further Memories of Middlesbrough developments to “keep people enjoying it” and following on from the their stint at The Python Gallery (21st to 28th January), the photos will be added to an existing display at the Dorman Museum which will continue up to Easter.

Sue Martin can be heard in discussion with Tosh Warwick at the launch of the ‘ Memories of Middlesbrough’ Exhibition.

Listen as Sue Martin introduces herself and explains what Memories of Middlesbrough is all about:


Listen as Sue Martin discusses the exhibition and the motivation behind Memories of Middlesbrough:


More information on the Middlesbrough Town Hall ‘ My Town Hall’ project can be found at or by contacting

By Tosh Warwick


Community Clean Ups

One Planet Pioneers are launching ‘Community Action Days’ this month. One Planet Pioneers are looking to work with communities across Middlesbrough to help them improve their neighbourhood. Whether it’s a simple litter pick or a community garden make over, no task will be too small.

New for 2017 Community Action Days are to be held on the last Friday of each month between 10am -3pm. The first ‘Community Action Day’ will take place on Friday 27th January 2017, working in partnership with River Tees Rediscovered they are looking for young people along with their friends and family to come along and help improve a section of Ormesby Beck along Teesdale Way.

Anyone that is interested is asked to meet at the Navigation Inn car park, Marsh Road at 10am. That is a location that will be familiar to many Boro fans as the pub is quite close to the Riverside Stadium. During the day volunteers will be clearing litter and vegetation, improving the beck to ensure clear water movement.

Nicky Morgan, One Planet Pioneers Officer contacted us about the action days and we thought we would like to know a little bit more about both the Community Action Days and One Planet Pioneers. So we fired off a few questions in Nicky’s direction. You can read the short Q and A below.

Q: Could you give me just a few words about who One Planet Pioneers are-

Nicky: ‘One Planet Pioneers is a 5 yr project aimed at 14-21 year olds who live in Middlesbrough; locally we are working in partnership with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust and Actes. Nationally we are one of 31 other Our Bright Future Programs coordinated by Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and Funded via Big Lottery

One Planet Pioneers are a combination of volunteers and apprentices who are developing and broadening their skills and gain occupational knowledge while carrying out conservation, sustainability, environmental and horticultural activities.

Along with the occupational skill our young people are engaging with other members of the wider community and developing many soft skills including communication skill, teamwork and discovering their place in the world.

 Q: What is your role in Middlesbrough?

Nicky: ‘OPP is all about improving the life chances of all young people who live in Middlesbrough, we want to work with young people from across the whole community from TS1 to TS8. We are here to help young people gain the skills and build confidence needed to move in to education or employment’

Q: The action day will improve the look of the environment visually but will it also help the Beck flow better as well as improving the wildlife habitat?

Nicky:  ‘Yes, we will be litter picking, removing any obstructions to water flow as long as safe to do so, along with cutting back/managing any overgrown vegetation’

Q: So would you say that you are providing tools, expertise and organisation to allow communities to maintain and improve their own neighborhood? 

Nicky: I and Casper Scallen from Middlesbrough Environment City will be on hand to provide Environmental, Horticultural and cleansing guidance, Christine Corbett (River Tees Rediscovered) will be on hand to offer guidance and information on Middlesbrough Becks and the importance of Ormesby Beck to Our great River Tees

All tools and gloves will be provided by OPP, Middlesbrough Council are supplying litter picker and rubbish bags, along with collecting all spoil/debris at the end of the day.

Anyone that wants to come along and help is advised to wear warm outdoor clothing and sturdy waterproof boots/shoe.

Q: How should community groups make contact to inquire about Action Days?

Nicky: Nicky Morgan or Casper Scallen – Telephone 01642 579839/579832  Mobile 07722746489


There has been a great deal of adverse publicity recently about fly-tipping, especially a horrific episode along the Middlesbrough bank of the Tees. These thoughtless actions can ruin the environment for everyone. It is great to know that there is a positive force for change out there giving communities the tools to clean up their own back yards.



374 years ago today….(16 January 1643)

…at the Battle of Guisborough a small force of Parliamentarians under Sir Hugh Cholmley of Scarborough and Whitby, following a march over the North York Moors from Malton, defeated the Royalist forces of Hemlington-based Guilford Slingsby.

Nearly 1000 men slogged it out in the fields, hedgerows and ditches to the south of the town with the Royalists eventually being overcome and losing a potential escort force for their arms convoys from Newcastle to York.

In the battle Slingsby was mortally wounded, having to have both his legs amputated and he died in Guisborough three days later.  His body was removed by his mother to York and he was buried in York Minster.

Following their success Cholmley sent a small force which would have taken the main route from Guisborough via Marton to Yarm, where, on 1 February they were defeated trying to hold the bridge against a much larger force escorting arms to York.


Author: Phil Philo, Senior Curator Middlesbrough Museums


30 Years On Chernobyl Exposed

Tomorrow is the final opportunity to view the revealing and actually quite shocking images captured when a group of north eastern artists visited the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 30 years on. The visit to Chernobyl by a group of northern artists and designers proved to be an inspirational experience, leading to an exhibition of their works at House of Blah Blah in Middlesbrough.

chernobyl2Last year a group of 14 artists – calling themselves the 26:86 Collective – visited the site of the world’s biggest nuclear disaster in the year of its 30th anniversary and documented the visit with film, photos and interviews.

This was a disaster that sent shock waves, quite literally around Europe and the globe. With nuclear fall out as close to our homes as Cumbria it certainly made us only too well aware of the fragility of our globe’s ecosystems and our shared atmosphere.

chernobyl-1The debates about nuclear power have raged ever since but exactly what has happened over in the disaster zone itself in Ukraine? The group of artists have reported back and through this exhibition we can see a nuclear plant and city frozen in time. It is a 20th century Soviet Pompeii in many senses that we see.

The multi-disciplined body of work – including photography, installations and graphic design work is a touring exhibition of ’30 Years On – Chernobyl Exposed’ for 26:86 Collective. It closes in House of Blah Blah at the end of tomorrow’s  session.

The exhibition is a personal response of each artist to the trip to Pripyat and Chernobyl in the Ukraine, and the research project and exhibitions will help raise awareness of the issues around nuclear energy.

Named after the day and year of the Chernobyl disaster, 26:86 Collective is made up of established and emerging artists and designers across the fields of illustrative and fine art, textiles, graphic design and photography.

To take two of the artists, Niall Kitching has created a series of striking soviet style propaganda banners. Niall says that in the abandoned city of Pripyat that the skyline is dominated by the message, “Let the Atom be a Worker, Not a Soldier.” Ironically it is said that there was a factory here making components for nuclear weapons from Chernobyl bi-products. Niall uses soviet style propaganda in his banner art to look at the secret and hidden meanings behind the words.

chernobyl-alysonTeesside artist and Cleveland College of Art lecturer Alyson Agar’s Ukranian Smile photo exhibition explores the capital city of Kiev through psychogeography wandering. Alyson documents green spaces and records accidental, or transient sculptural vistas in the townscape.

Claire Baker looks at the effects of time and abandonment of the evacuated homes but she also says Don’t Let History Repeat Itself as she shows with the destructive effects on material goods and building fabric from just ONE moment in time. And a moment that is 30 years ago!

chernobyl-pixThe exhibition seems even more poignant for its surroundings in the warehouse like House of Blah Blah. When I was there they were playing Joy Division and Velvet Underground so it did seem like we stepping inside a Cold War scenario.

Open 10-4pm tomorrow. House of Blah Blah, Exchange House, Exchange Square, Middlesbrough TS1 1DB

(Next to Teesside Archives and almost under the A66 fly over in the former GPO building.