Memories of legendary Tommy the Trumpeter still shine bright – but an exciting new era of children’s entertainment lies ahead in South Tyneside.
Tommy, also known as South Shields’ Customs House boss Ray Spencer, hung up his hat for the final time two summers ago.
For a quarter of a century he had been the embodiment of fun in the sun in much-loved concerts at the town’s seafront amphitheatre.
When Tommy exited the stage, he left huge boots to fill.
But the show must go on, and leisure bosses are determined to provide a top-notch line-up of entertainment to keep borough kids amused and engaged over the summer holidays.
A whole host of entertainers have been lined up to deliver laughs aplenty at the amphitheatre on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons throughout most of August.
Yesterday, an enthusiastic crowd of about 200, including parents and grandparents, gathered to soak up some rays and revel in the laughs provided by clown duo the Rapide Brothers.
The show was hosted by Jordy Cernic, who opened up proceedings by saying: “We’re in South Shields, and guess what – it’s not raining!”
The three entertainers had the youngsters dancing and singing in the afternoon sun, with a spirited mixture of games, juggling and general tomfoolery.
South Shields reveller Judy Kerry was there with her daughter Chloe, 15, and grandchildren Esmae, three, and Ada, five.
She said: “Things have come full circle. I came here for years with my children James and Jenna – they used to follow Tommy around, now it’s the grandkids.
“It’s different now without Tommy, but still great fun. You can’t beat South Shields seafront.”
Andy Byers, cultural events officer with South Tyneside Council, revealed there were plans to develop an iconic new character to take over Tommy’s legacy.
He said: “Ray was unique and there will never be another Tommy.
“It would have been unfair to throw someone straight in his place after he retired because he was so iconic, but we’re working on developing a new character.”
Forthcoming amphitheatre attractions include local favourite Steve Sullivan next Thursday, from 2pm, and ‘Grant and Deck’s South Shields Takeaway’ on Thursday, August 20, at the same time.