I’m sure you will have read, with understandable sadness, the news that local lass Janis Blower has retired from the Shields Gazette after 44 years’ service.
Janis, who joined the paper in 1971, will be best remembered for her splendid nostalgia pages, in which she told the history of this wonderful part of the world.
What Janis didn’t know about Shields and surrounding communities wasn’t worth knowing.
Ray Spencer, executive director of the Customs House in South Shields, said: “She has been there forever as a constant reminder of our rich heritage, often pointing out the amazing in the ordinary.
“Places we take for granted she celebrates. Janice is the guru of local history. Her loyal readership hangs on her every word, and her mailbag and inbox are filled with correspondence from around the world.
“Janis is a one-off whose sterling work for the Gazette and the town she loves will never be forgotten and, I suspect, never equalled.”
So there’s no way that yours truly – a lad from Hartlepool (born and bred) – is ever going to fill those shoes – and I don’t intend to try when I take over the task of writing and compiling the Gazette’s nostalgia pages.
What I will be trying to do is to take inspiration from Janis and bring my passion for our rich and colourful history to bear when delving into South Tyneside’s past – both distant and recent. However, I really would like your feedback on how you would like me to shape the future of your nostalgia pages.
What would you like me to include? What eras are you particularly interested in? What would you like it to be called?
Please get in touch with your thoughts. Phone me on (0191) 5017476, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: Peter French, Shields Gazette, 2nd Floor, Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le Spring, DH4 5RA. It’s your past and your memories, so come on, help me mould the way we present them as we move into the future.
l Look out for the first of my nostalgia pages next week.