It finally happened, after Tommy's last stand at the Town Hall, he held his final children's party at the Amphitheatre on Sea Road, South Shields yesterday. Thousands attended, young and old, including yours truly and little "Missy". Three hours of rip roaring fun and games with lots of prizes for the kids on a glorious hot tropical South Shields afternoon.
After twenty five years acting in the role of Tommy the Trumpeter, singing all of the kids' favourite songs "Tommy" aka Ray Spencer, the Director of the Customs House Theatre and Art Gallery, finally hung up the uniform and called it a day.
He has had a few fittings of the uniform over the years, each one larger than the last, and he started out with a head of hair - now gone - as the local council asked him to fill in for two weeks as a children's entertainer 25 years ago. However after selling thousands of videos around Tyneside, two and a half decades of performing twice a week every week during the school summer holidays, Ray (who is the same age as me) has decided that he'd like a summer holiday with his own children (like me he is lucky enough to have young children later in life.)
Having pre-announced his retirement as "Tommy", Ray (the voice of South Tyneside) acknowledged there would be tears, he also probably accepted that he'd become a victim of his own "gunge tank" and willingly was pushed into it by his own daughters, and following a good splattering of multi-coloured gunge he was then attacked with a water hose, yet took it all in good fun.
Then the tears flowed as we all bade "Tommy" good-bye. He'll be a hard act to follow, but I'm pretty sure that South Tyneside Council has someone waiting in the wings to introduce a new character next summer, I feel sure that Ray will have had some part in the planning of it.
Good-bye Tommy, you will be sorely missed, your comic genius and amiable smile will live forever in our memories, but Ray Spencer? I think he'll still be around as the pantomime dame at Christmas time :-), and Curly thinks he'll still bump into him from time to time in the local park!
I took a huge amount of pictures at Tommy's final party and there are some VERY entertaining ones amongst them, so perhaps we'll see a few more shortly, in fact if you'll give me a few days I'll put together a slide show!
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Read my views in Curly's Corner Shop, to find out a little more about my home town South Shields.
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