VETERAN South Tyneside entertainer Ray Spencer has been honoured with a special award.
The 57-year-old, known to generations of children as Tommy the Trumpeter, was given the Hotspur Award for his years of dedication at the annual dinner of the Northumbrian Association, held at the House of Commons, in London.
Mr Spencer, executive director of the Customs House in South Shields, joined the staff at the Mill Dam theatre in January 2000 when it was under threat of closure.
He’s since helped to quadruple audience attendance, won three national contracts for Creative Partnerships, Find Your Talent and A Night Less Ordinary, and overseen a refurbishment.
Mr Spencer – who lives in South Shields with partner Trish Whale, 47, and children James, eight, Melissa, 11, Georgina, 12, and Natasha, 20 – was made an MBE back in 2012 for his services to the arts in the North-East.
He said: “I was absolutely stunned to get the award. It was a great honour and I was a bit humbled to receive it.
“At the same time, the Northumberland Fusiliers and the Durham Light Infantry received another Hotspur Award for their sacrifices over the years, and it was humbling to share the same stage as them. I was absolutely blown away.”
He dedicated the award to the people he has worked with over the decades.
He said: “I got it because of the hundreds of people I have worked with over the years. I should share it with all of them as they have all contributed to my life.”
The award, a silver spur, is named after Harry Hotspur, son of the first Earl of Northumberland, a hero famed for his valour.