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BLUE PLAQUES: Former dance champion and historian are latest to be honoured

BLUE PLAQUES: Former dance champion and historian are latest to be honoured

Image: LDRS

A former West End choreographer and local historian are the latest South Tyneside greats to be honoured with blue plaques.

South Tyneside Council launched a formal blue plaque scheme in 2017 which allows members of the public to nominate a person or building they feel is important to the heritage and history of the borough.

To meet the criteria, individuals must have made a “significant contribution to the cultural, industrial, social, economic, scientific or civic legacy of South Tyneside or Britain.”

And nominees must have a “strong link” with South Tyneside – such as being born, living or working there – and an existing building or site where a plaque could be installed.

At a recent meeting of South Tyneside Council’s ruling cabinet, two new public nominations for blue plaques were accepted.

They included Gary Gillespie Davison, a former UK dance champion and West End choreographer, who was “heavily involved in the arts in South Tyneside.”

According to cabinet papers, a plaque will be installed at the former La Strada nightclub site and will be funded by the nominator.

The second nomination included Amy Flagg – a historian and photographer who was well known for her photography of South Shields during the Second World War.

The plaque will be installed at her former home Chapel House in Westoe Village and the costs will be met by the council.

A report to cabinet adds the plaque would be “timely” as October 2021 marks the anniversary of major bombings in South Shields Market Place which Amy Flagg “bravely documented.”

Councillor Joan Atkinson, deputy council leader with responsibility for culture and leisure, introduced the nominations to cabinet at a digital meeting on Wednesday, February 17.

She said: “Both of the proposed plaques can be approved within the guidelines of the council’s blue plaque scheme and the council has agreed to meet the cost of one blue plaque per annum and can also agree to approve other suitable nominations where the cost will be met by the community.

“As both of these blue plaque nominations meet the criteria set out in the scheme, approving both enables the borough to recognise two individuals who have made a significant contribution to South Tyneside.”

There are currently 27 plaques around the borough, with recent installations commemorating A&E consultant Dr Anne Seymour and industrialist John Dagnia.

The plaques are normally raised in a ceremony involving the Mayor and Mayoress and are also logged on an online database.

In late March 2020, a plaque was due to be unveiled to commemorate poet Eileen O’Shaughnessy, who was also George Orwell’s wife, but this was cancelled due to Covid-19.

The privately-funded plaque will now be unveiled at a later date.

In 2019, council bosses also agreed to award a blue plaque to world-famous film director and producer Sir Ridley Scott and display it at his former childhood home in South Shields.

A council report adds that “approval has been sought from Sir Ridley Scott’s management teams” on this matter.

Words: Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter


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