Tim Healy records powerful poem in South Shields for special film marking 130th anniversary of Children North East

North East legend Tim Healy is helping mark the 130th anniversary of charity Children North East.

By Ross Robertson
Monday, 5th July 2021, 4:17 pm
Scott Tyrrell with Tim Healy, taken at the Harbourmaster recording studio
Scott Tyrrell with Tim Healy, taken at the Harbourmaster recording studio

The star of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Benidorm is the narrator of a powerful film created to mark the special year for the charity.

Healy came to South Shields to record a specially commissioned poem forming the backdrop to the film, which launched on July 5.

Entitled You’re Not Alone, it was penned by poet Scott Tyrrell, and the film was produced by South Shields-based Unified Films.

Ryan with his three-month-old, Reuben.

Tim, who travelled from his home in Cheshire to record the emotive poem at the Harbourmaster Production Studio in South Shields, said he was only too pleased to be able to help the charity of which he’s patron.

He said: “Both the poem and film are fantastic. Children North East has been supporting youngsters and their families since 1891 when a couple of chaps decided to take a bunch of kids out to the seaside for some fresh air and a bite to eat and, though it’s sad we’re still needed today, the main thing is we are still here for families.”

It is hoped the film will not only raise awareness but also much-needed funds for Children North East so it can continue helping babies, children and young people in the region.

Leigh Elliott, Chief Executive of Children North East, said: “Covid has hit our beneficiaries hard at a time when child poverty rates in the North East are growing faster than anywhere else in the country outside inner city London.

Filming on location

“In parts of Middlesbrough, 46% of children are living in poverty and in some areas of Newcastle it’s 45%, these are also pre-covid figures which is extremely worrying.

“At the same time, charities like ours are finding it harder to raise income because our usual mass participation fundraising events – such as our annual schools Sandcastle Challenge – can’t go ahead in the same way.

"So we hope our film, which demonstrates how we stand up for children, will remind people why we’re here and move them to support us.”

The charity was founded by ship owner’s manager, John Lunn and cashier to Newcastle Corporation, John Watson, both of whom were concerned about the health of poor children living in slums.

(l-r) Ryan Gibson and Jon Burton of Unified with Tim Healy and Martin Trollope of Harbourmaster Productions.

Lunn wrote an open letter to the newspaper to Watson with a practical suggestion of how to help:

‘Are there any street lads in your Mission to whom a day at the seaside would be a treat? If so, we might organise a trip’

As a result of the letter, 120 Tyneside children enjoyed a boat trip on the river to Tynemouth.

The idea caught the public’s imagination and soon weekly trips were being organised, paid for through public donations.

Today, Children North East offers a wide range of support and in 2019/20 the charity created life changing differences for 3,921 babies, children and young people across the North East and further afield through 28 diverse projects from mental health counselling to supporting children who have suffered domestic abuse.

Geordie poet, Scott Tyrrell, said it had been an honour to have been asked to write the poem. “The North East spirit is tremendous. We’re a mickey-taking lot but there’s something in our gut that compels us to lift up those who are struggling. I think that, most of all, is the message I’ve tried to get across in the poem.”

Jon Burton, who runs Unified Films along with Ryan Gibson, said: “It’s been such an enjoyable challenge to bring Scott’s incredible words to life, as well as to do justice to 130 years of Children North East, a charity that does such important work in support of babies, children, young people and their families in our region.

“As well as the likes of Beamish offering up their amazing premises to the production, we’ve had such a dedicated and passionate cast and crew, all so aware of the importance of what we’re doing, and as such, giving it their absolute all. We’re very excited to share the film and tell the story of this wonderful charity.”

To support the 130th anniversary appeal, simply text 130YEARS to 70480 to donate £5. Texts will cost £5 plus one standard network rate message. Alternatively visit www.children-ne.org.uk to donate your chosen amount.

You’re Not Alone, by Scott Tyrrell

It began in 1891

with a simple seaside trip

Two men looked out and saw the clip

of some lads that were playing out in the street -

broken and threadbare wi’ nowt to eat

So they cobbled some cash for a boat trip plus

some lunch and a drink and said this one’s on us

Just a breath of fresh air and a little cheer

And all those years later, we are still here

We’re here for the bairns who don’t get enough

For the parents who’ve had way more than enough

For those who carry their worlds on their shoulders

For the fighters and grafters, the scholars and moulders

who fend off the boulders every single day

We’re here to keep the very worst at bay

We’re here for the dads who lie wide awake

For the mams who need that long-needed break

For the empty bellies and the tethers’ ends

From Tynemouth to Wearmouth to Four Lane Ends

From Stockton to Shields, Blyth to Wallsend

Places we know you can find real friends

Who know that compassion never ends

We’re a people who get what struggling means

It’s in our blood, it’s in our genes

And we lift up those we find on their knees

And we give them the pride to stand tall as trees

There are those that say shy bairns get nowt

But we’re here for the bairns who whisper or shout

For those hiding scars inside and out

For those who’ve coped with too many a clout

Life can be pitiless and relentless and wild

So it takes a toon to raise a child

Just a decent chance, and a decent start

With a little help and a lot of heart

We can say to all those bitten to the bone

You’re not alone.

You’re not alone.