Some times when your walking a little bit of serendipity happens and you’re in just the right place at the right time.
I arrived in Seaham at about 2pm planning on getting lunch and a bit of a break. I spent a few minutes photographing a big sculpture of a WW1 soldier that Seaham. As I finished I looked for a cafe I saw Flanders Seaham, it was a forces themed cafe bar with murals on the wall including Arnhem D-Day etc.
As I settled down to tea and cake I noticed one customer spot someone in the street and set about luring him in for a drink. After a few protestations he was duly lured and had a pint in his hand.
He then spotted me and came over and started asking me about my walking. His name was Mark and it turned out he organised walks all around Seaham, his friend Dave came over and it turned out that tomorrow was a very big day for Seaham, Dave, Mark and from what I could gather everyone from the local MP downwards were involved in Seaham giving the freedom of the town to the 4th regiment Royal Artillery.
The 4th Regiment had a long association with Seaham and Seaham wanted to enhance this relationship by having a big ceremony with at least 15 other local mayors in attendance. Along with field guns , cadets and most of the town.
What impressed me was the pride that these two had in their town. Not the sort of “Seaham’s better than anyone else” pride but that need to celebrate Seaham and it’s history.
As we sat and chatted it turned out that Mark was organising a memorial walk for Billy Nelson.
Billy Nelson was a lad from Seaham killed in WW1. However he had a rare and tragic claim to fame. He was one of the 310 soldiers with mental illness and PTSD who were executed by the British Army for cowardice. These men after a long campaign were pardoned in 1986. Billy Nelson’s niece still lives in Seaham, aged 97, and will be sending Mark and his fellow walkers off as they follow a route round Seaham to find places connected with Billy.
Next year they are doing a commemoration for a crashed Lancaster bomber with a Canadian crew, this will involve Moose’s milk an alcoholic concoction from Canada.
If you look at the seafront at Seaham there are hundred of poppies on the railings by the sea, each with the name of a son or daughter of Seaham who has died in the armed services .
As I sat in the cafe and listened to H the owner and watched a local artist put some final touches to a mural commemorating the 4th Regiment, I felt proud and privileged to have met them and Mark and Dave and to have shared a small part of their enthusiasm and dedication to their town.
Unfortunately I have got the blame for keeping Mark at the cafe for several more pints which was not the afternoon his wife had planned for him.
It is a small price to pay.
Have a great day tomorrow Mark , Dave and H.
Have a great day Seaham.