Blue plaque for all-round entertainer to be unveiled on site of former South Shields nightclub

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A blue plaque honouring a larger than life South Tyneside character is to be unveiled at the site of the former La Strada nightclub in South Shields

Gary Gillespie Davison died from kidney failure in February 2020 aged 64, but packed much into his life.

He was a DJ in the club, as well as the Chameleon pub and the Chelsea Cats nightclub. Gary was also known for his gift-of-the-gab sales skills in Binns and South Shields Market.

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But he was noted too in London’s West End as a choreographer, where for a time he worked alongside Arlene Phillips.

Gary Gillespie Davison, seen here in his entertainment heyday.Gary Gillespie Davison, seen here in his entertainment heyday.
Gary Gillespie Davison, seen here in his entertainment heyday.

Gary was UK disco dance champion too. One of his favourite tricks was to do the splits in order to pick up a handkerchief.

He was a regular performer at the annual Miss Tyneside competition, which was also a fundraiser for the Mayor’s Charity. Another venue for his skills was the Customs House in a number of shows.

He appeared in numerous musicals, pantomimes and ballets. One of his more unusual credits was as “Chislington United player” in ITV’s 1980s hit children’s show Super Gran.

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The plaque was the idea of Gary’s good friend Colin Reah. It has been paid for privately, with South Tyneside Council attending to everything else, such as the installation.

Gary's blue plaque.Gary's blue plaque.
Gary's blue plaque.

Colin said: “I just thought it would be nice to see something on the wall saying this was where Gary dee-jayed, danced and was a showman.

“I used to walk down the town with Gary and we couldn’t walk six feet without people stopping him to speak. It would take you half an hour to walk 200 yards.

“He was a lovely, lovely fella. Warm, kind and with a great sense of humour. He was always the centre of the party and would put on fancy dress in a heartbeat.

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“He did so much for the community over the years. He’d give you his last pound. When I heard we could have the blue plaque I was just over the moon.”

The plaque will be unveiled at the La Strada site on the junction of Commercial Road and Station Road in South Shields on Saturday, May 14 at 1pm. Among those attending will be Mayor of South Tyneside Pat Hay and former Emmerdale star Dale Meeks.