GLOBETROTTERS Donald and Audrey Bell have travelled the world to spread their educational knowledge.
Almost 50 years ago, they left South Shields with six-year-old daughter, Judith, and jetted off to the West Indies.
Mr Bell was taking up an exciting challenge as a university lecturer.
The family later upped sticks again for a further adventure in Fidel Castro’s Cuba.
Today, the couple, who married as teenagers, are happily retired and living opposite Mumbles Lighthouse in south Wales.
But despite their extensive travelling, they still retain a special place in their hearts for South Shields – and the start in life town authorities offered their young family.
Mr Bell, now 77, said: “We do miss South Shields, and spend two holidays a year at the fabulous Little Haven Hotel.
“We would like to thank South Shields Council for providing us with our first home in Lawrence Avenue, Whiteleas, after we married in our teens and were living in Laygate Lane.
“We both believe that South Shields is a wonderful place for young people to grow up in.”
Fifty years of memories had come flooding back for the former South Shields family after they made a surprise appearance in the Gazette.
A photograph of the Bell family appeared in a recent Cookson Country Dateline page reflecting on life in 1984.
At the time, Donald and Audrey Bell and six-year-old daughter, Judith, were about to head off on the adventure of a lifetime.
They were emigrating to the Port of Spain in the sunny West Indies, where Mr Bell, then 27, had been appointed a lecturer in electrical engineering at the Port of Spain University in 1963.
Mr Bell, who retired 15 years ago, remained with his family in the West Indies for six years, before moving on to Cuba in 1969 and then to Swansea two years later.
And the recent Gazette article helped transport the couple back to those halcyon days,
Mr Bell said: “At the time, we had joined a UN programme to establish a new engineering faculty at the University of the West Indies for two years, and went on to another United Nations programme to establish a similar faculty at the University of Havana in Cuba.
“We returned to Swansea University to join the academic staff and complete my electrical engineering doctorate, and I eventually retired as dean of engineering at Swansea Metropolitan University.”
The couple have three children, Audrey, a health visitor in Swansea, and sons Julien, a GP in Swansea, and Alex, a senior lecturer at Trinity College in Carmarthen, in addition to seven grandchildren.
Mrs Bell’s brother, Norman Robson, still lives in Page Avenue, South Shields, and she also has two sisters, Jean and Margaret, living in the North East.
Mr Bell, who also had six-month UN sabbaticals in southern India and Bulgaria, added: “We are grateful to the world-famous Reyrolle company in Hebburn, which gave us electrical engineering and drawing office apprenticeships respectively.
“And we send best wishes to our relatives and friends in South Shields and our friends at Whitburn Cricket Club.”