THE sun shone on Tommy the Trumpeter as his last-ever traditional summer season came to a tearful end after 25 years.
A packed seafront amphitheatre in South Shields created an electric atmosphere yesterday as more than 1,500 Tommy fans were taken on a roller-coaster of emotions.
Ray Spencer has been taking on the persona of Tommy the Trumpeter for a quarter of a century to entertain the crowds – and his supporters did not fail him.
As Tommy belted out his signature tune to mark the start of his final party, fans donned Tommy masks in a surprise twist to make the day more special for the man who has put smiles on countless faces over the years.
The song ended with a confetti cannon and pyrotechnics before the traditional games got underway.
Throughout the event, people of all ages were invited on to the stage to compete for prizes.
At the end of each game, came a surprise for Tommy, kicked off with a presentation by editor of the Shields Gazette, Joy Yates, who handed him his very own newspaper front page.
The gift was one of a number of surprises throughout the party and included news that a plaque will be placed in Tommy’s circle as well as the unveiling of artwork on the back of the amphitheatre.
As the party drew to a close, the man himself was invited into the gunge tank which has served him so well over the years.
It was only when he re-appeared that it appeared to sink in that this was the end of an era as he took the mic to thank everyone who had turned up before breaking into Tommy’s song for one last time.
Youngsters clambered to the stage to belt out the words, and as Tommy left the arena to make his way through the crowds, they followed.
Gemma Jordison, from South Shields, said: “I have been to every single Tommy party. When I was little my mam brought me, and then, when I had children of my own, I brought them.
“It is so sad to see him go after 25 years. I just don’t know what they are going to do without him. He is irreplaceable.”
Alana Vickers, from South Shields, added: “Summers are never going to be the same again. I’m just glad I have been able to bring my daughter down to the parties, so she has been able to experience the same thing I experienced as a kid. It is so sad.”