Which local heroes get your vote?

Local heroes plaque for Ant and Dec
Local heroes plaque for Ant and Dec

If you’ve ever taken a stroll down NewcastleGateshead’s 'Walk of Fame' and wished it featured a particular Local Hero – who you feel has made a significant contribution to the region, then now is your chance to cast your vote.

People have until 19 March to put forward their suggestions about who should be added to the existing list of 29 bronze plaques that currently make up the 'NewcastleGateshead Local Heroes' collection along NewcastleGateshead’s iconic Quayside Mile. The route goes from Baltic Square to the Swing Bridge, across the River Tyne, to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge (on the Newcastle side of the water).

The trail was first opened in 2014, by Lady Elsie Robson, wife of the late Sir Bobby Robson. NewcastleGateshead Local Heroes is delivered and managed jointly by Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council in partnership with destination marketing organisation, NewcastleGateshead Initiative. 

Last year’s four Local Heroes, as voted by the people of the North East, included Comedian Brendan Healy, Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe, Alison Kay founder of The People’s Kitchen, and former Redcar MP and Newcastle University politics lecturer Mo Mowlam. 

The main criteria for the nomination is that the ‘heroes’ need to have inspired local people with their achievements; and be recognised at a national or international level over the past 60 years. They could be from the world of sport, the arts, academia or business. The list of nominees will be put to a panel, who will then select up to six new heroes to be immortalised in bronze. (The heroes can be past or present).

Cllr Kim McGuinness, Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities at Newcastle City Council, said: “NewcastleGateshead’s Local Heroes is a great way to celebrate some of the wonderful people from and connected with the area.  It's fantastic to recognise the wide ranging successes achieved by those that have been honoured as Local Heroes, from individuals making ground-breaking medical advances to some of our best known performers and sports-people. Our region is innovative and is having a global influence. The bronze plaques are a physical reminder and a lasting tribute to the individuals, they are a way to show residents and visitors the great talents emerging from Newcastle and Gateshead.”

Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure at Gateshead Council, Cllr John McElroy, said: “Our Local Heroes walk is a wonderful way of immortalising the amazing people who have contributed so much in terms of the arts, science, business and creative life of our region. It really brings home to visitors and local people the talent and legacy of people from our region, not only in the North East, but also across the country and the world. I look forward to seeing what other names are put forward for the next phase of our Local Heroes’ walk.”

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing organisation, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “NewcastleGateshead Local Heroes is a wonderful tribute to truly inspiration individuals who have contributed to our destination and helped shape it into the place it is today, which is visited by almost 17 million people every year. I encourage you to nominate your local hero so they too can be remembered and celebrated.”

Local Heroes nomination cards are available to complete at libraries and customer contact centres across Newcastle and Gateshead. People can also send in their suggestions online by visiting www.NewcastleGateshead.com/LocalHeroes. There’s a “nominate your Local Hero here” button.

Here’s a full list of the 29 current Local Heroes, who make up the trail of bronze plaques along the NewcastleGateshead quayside: Jill Halfpenny (actress/entertainer); Stephen Miller (Paralympic Champion); Kathryn Tickell (composer / musician); Robson Green (actor/entertainer); Sister Winifred Laver (Methodist Missionary); Prof Sir John Burn (geneticist); Cardinal Basil Hume (inspirational church leader) ; Prof Peter W Higgs (Nobel prize winner for Physics); Mark Knopfler OBE (musician); Brendan Foster CBE (long-distance runner/founder of the Great North Run); Guy Readman (businessman and philanthropist) ; Lindisfarne (legendary folk group); Alan Shearer OBE (footballer/presenter); Alderman Edward Cowen JP (pitman, campaigner and author); Ant & Dec (TV presenters); Dame Margaret Barbour DBE (businesswoman and philanthropist); David Almond (author); Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais (writers); Doreen ‘Granny’ Jardine (community activist); Jackie Milburn (Wor Jackie / footballer); Julia Darling (writer); Ruth Dodds (author and playwright); Sir Bobby Robson CBE (football manager / founder of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation); Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen (photographer and co-founder of Amber Collective); Sting (rock star); Mo Mowlam MP (Politian); Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe (soldier); Brendan Healey (comedian / entertainer); and Alison Kay (founder of The People’s Kitchen).

People can also post their cards and suggestions to Freepost COUNCIL NEWS (nothing else is required on the envelope). Or, by contacting David Hepworth at Newcastle Libraries by calling 0191 2774174 or emailing david.hepworth@newcastle.gov.uk. Voting is open until Sunday 19 March.