Queen Elizabeth II: Watch as South Tyneside residents describe how they were reduced to tears as they mourn the death of 'nation's grandmother'
Tearful South Tyneside residents have been outpouring their grief for the loss of the “nation’s grandmother” and a “fabulous ambassador” after Queen Elizabeth II sadly passed away.
A statement from Buckingham Palace on Thursday night confirmed the news the nation had been dreading, that the Queen had passed away at Balmoral at the age of 96.
The grey skies over South Tyneside epitomised the subdued mood of the borough, as the Town Hall’s Union Jack flag fluttered at half-mast and church bells could be heard reverberating across the town in recognition of this sombre yet monumental moment in history.
The inclement weather hadn’t put off mourners who arrived at the Town Hall with flowers and messages of gratitude, including white orchids from the Council’s leader, Cllr Tracey Dixon, as well as the Mayor of South Tyneside, Cllr Pat Hay, which simply read ‘on the sad passing of her Majesty the Queen’.
Support workers Lesley Shaw, 51, and Benjamin Friday, 43, were two people who’d come to the Town Hall to pay their respects.
Lesley, from South Shields, said: “I was shocked to the core as I’d only seen her on the TV a couple of days ago meeting the new Prime Minister. It has left me with a heavy heart. She will be remembered for her stamina, loyalty and presence.
"I hope Charles can be as good a leader as his mother.”
Benjamin, from Newcastle, added: “The news was a big blow. I felt sad as she was loved by everyone and we are going to miss her so much. The Queen will be remembered for her humanity.”
In their own tribute, Pattinson Estate Agents had emblazoned their window with a life size picture of the Queen.
Office manager Emily Blenckinsop, 25, said: “We wanted to pay our own tribute to the Queen. I was cooking my tea in the house when I heard the news and I shed a few tears as it was a big shock.
"She just seemed like a lovely older lady – the nation’s grandmother. We will have to see if Charles makes a good king.”
A steady stream of people also arrived to sign the book of condolences which has been opened up in the Town Hall.
One of those was South Shields retail worker Christina Cockburn, 56, who said: “I just wanted to come and pay my respects. It was very sad news. I was watching the news all afternoon with tears in my eyes.
"I think she’ll be remembered for her lovely smile and the hats she wore.”
Retired medical secretary Jean Cartner, from South Shields, added: “It was a sad day for the country but also personally as she has always been there in my lifetime. She’s very knowledgeable and has been a fabulous ambassador for the country and we will all miss her very much.
"The Queen will be remembered for her longevity, patience, understanding and the capacity to bring the country together.”
South Shields industrial chemist Garry Wright, 49, thinks the Queen’s achievement in reaching her Platinum Jubilee will remain unique.
He said: “I think everyone will have something to remember the Queen by – something amazing that she has done. I can’t seen anyone repeating her 70 years of service.”