Blue plaque honouring South Tyneside entertainer Gary Gillespie Davison officially unveiled on site of former South Shields nightclub La Strada

A blue plaque honouring a much-loved South Tyneside entertainer has been officially unveiled at the site of the former nightclub where he brought happiness to many.

All-round entertainer Gary Gillespie Davison was known to many for his DJing at the La Strada nightclub in South Shields.

He was also noted in London’s West End as a choreographer, where for a time he worked alongside dance legend Arlene Phillips.

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Others remember him for performing at The Customs House, where appeared in numerous musicals, pantomimes and ballets.

From left: Sanford Goudie, former owner of the nightclub, The Mayor of South Shields Cllr Pat Hay, Mayoress Jean Kopp and Colin Reah.

Sadly, Gary died from kidney failure in February 2020 aged 64, shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, which meant those closest to him felt he went without a proper tribute.

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The plaque was officially unveiled on Saturday, May 14, with the ceremony attended by Sanford Goudie, the former owner of the nightclub, the Mayor of South Shields Cllr Pat Hay and Mayoress Jean Kopp.

Speaking at the event, Colin revealed where the idea for the plaque came from.

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Blue plaque on the site of the former La Strada nightclub for choreographer, actor and dancer and DJ Gary Gillespie Davison on Saturday.

He said: “I walked past here 22 months ago and I thought this is where Gary dee-jayed and where he worked so wouldn’t it be nice to have something on the wall?

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"Obviously you can’t just put anything you want on the wall so I went to the council, they approved it and it is just fantastic.

"The turnout is tremendous, especially since he was robbed of his wake in 2020, so I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone that knew Gary.

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“He would have probably not wanted any fuss but he would be absolutely elated, to think that that he was a DJ who worked here all those years ago and now his name is going to be on the wall forever.”

Gary Gillespie Davison, seen here in his entertainment heyday.
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As well as DJing at La Strada, Gary was also known for playing The Chameleon pub and The Chelsea Cat nightclub, and he was a regular performer at the annual Miss Tyneside competition, which was also a fundraiser for the Mayor’s Charity.

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He was also known for his gift-of-the-gab sales skills in Binns and South Shields Market.

Among the many other strings to his bow was as a UK disco dance champion, with one of his favourite tricks being to do the splits in order to pick up a handkerchief.

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Former owner of the La Strada nightclub, Sanford Goudie, speaking at the unveiling of the blue plaque.

And 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 blue plaque to Gary was one of two recently approved by the council.

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South Tyneside Council launched a formal blue plaque scheme in 2017 which allows members of the public to nominate a person or building they feel is important to the heritage and history of the borough.

To meet the criteria, individuals must have made a “significant contribution to the cultural, industrial, social, economic, scientific or civic legacy of South Tyneside or Britain.”

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And nominees must have a “strong link” with South Tyneside – such as being born, living or working there – and an existing building or site where a plaque could be installed.

Crowds gathered for the unveiling of a blue plaque for Gary Gillespie Davison on the site of the former La Strada nightclub.