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Some Thoughts on Father’s Day

Their marriage was re-arranged to the Friday because the foot handicap finals were held the next day.

The Minister in the Radio 4 Morning Worship invites us to remember fathers and mothers, in love.  Last night my brother and I remembered our parents, John and Ada Smith with love.

Up to and after their marriage they lived in Burradon.  In today’s jargon, dad became a “redundant miner” due to poor eyesight.  We moved to Annitsford.  My mother taught in the Sunday School and was a member of the “Mother’s Meeting” in the “Tin Chapel” following the same in the “Low Chapel” where the Weetslade Vicarage now stands.  My father’s hobby was foot running.  He was a Timekeeper.  Their marriage in the “Low Chapel” was re-arranged to the Friday because the foot handicap finals were held next day.  She must have truly loved him.

In 1928, a few men of like mind met in the miner’s hut and the Burradon Schoolchildren’s and Aged People’s Treat Fund had its birth there.  My Uncle Bob was elected Secretary but sadly he died six months later.  My Dad, on the dole with time on time hands, accepted the post of Honorary Secretary.  Most of his days were spent in Burradon.  To supplement the funds, he organised yearly foot handicaps and football medal competitions that were held in the Burradon Welfare.  Also, the school children’s trip on Race Wednesday and I think the aged people had a tea party, in the Co-op store hall, at Christmas time.

The Foot Handicap was geared to the heats being run each week until the final was run on the day of the village flower show.  As I remember my brother and I learned to read and write from the runner cards.  They were kept in our house, laid on the table after tea to begin the process of elimination.

Following application of the football teams to take part in the medal competition, Dad arranged for someone in the public eye to do the presentation of the medals.  We as children looked forward to that day. The medal presentation was held in the Coo-op store stall, on Race Tuesday evening, prior to the children’s trip next day.  I can remember some of the presenters: Footballers: David Davidson, Newcastle F.C. Raich Carter- Sunderland F.C. and Jackie Robinson, from Shiremoor, who played for Sheffield Wednesday and England.  Davidson lived in Whitley Bay and we went one afternoon to have tea and meet his wife and small son. There was also a jockey one year, Billy Nevitt, who was riding a race the next day in Gosforth Park.

My Dad spent most of that Tuesday organising the dance, etc., arriving home after midnight leaving my Mother to bake pies and cakes, make sandwiches and pack spare clothes, in readiness for the trip on Wednesday.  I was a pupil of Burradon School and entitled to go on the trip.

Dad was up early Wednesday morning and off on foot to Killingworth Station (there were no buses).  He had to be there on the platform when the train and families arrived with Will Carr.  They gave five pence to each schoolchild as spending money.  It always rained and we always went to Seaburn.  Mother was left to cope with two children, plus all the baggage and get to the station on time.  We did have Dad’s company during the day, on the sands, along with aunts and uncles and cousins.  At home time, Dad never came home on the train with us, Mother once again, had to cope with two tired children plus baggage and walking to Annitsford.

Mrs Jolly, who lived in Camperdown, regularly went to the trip every year without her husband but with all her children.  One or two of her children couldn’t be accounted for.  We left on the train, but Dad stayed to look for them and brought them home later.

In 1939 the Second World War began, and an emergency meeting was arranged where it was decided to temporarily abandon the Treat Fund until the cessation of the war.

Yes, like our Mother we loved our Dad, who made time for us, despite his activity for the people of Burradon.

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