Remembering the Hartlepool postman who met Steven Seagal

Tony Hudspith, who met Steven Seagal.
Tony Hudspith, who met Steven Seagal.

Carol Neesam, Tony Hudspith and Len Watson were all in the headlines 20 years ago this month.

And let’s face it, they were a talented lot who did Hartlepool and East Durham proud back in 1997.

We’re focusing of some of the faces who lit up the news and asking - what are your own memories of those times?

Aikido expert Tony, who was a Hartlepool postman at the time, was in the news after getting to spar with Hollywood legend Steven Seagal.

Tony was himself a 2nd Dan and an instructor in martial arts, and got to do a spot of training with the great man.

Tony said at the time: “Seagal was brilliant - he was really down to earth and was just chatting away with everybody.”

Tony and the Hollywood star had first met at a martial arts event in France.

The Hartlepool postman said it had been an honour to spar with him.

Carol Neesam’s moment in the spotlight came thanks to her bingo-calling skills.

She had only been working at the Carlton for a year when she competed in the Bingo Caller of the Year championships.

Judges marked the callers on their presentation style and the clarity of their number calling, and they said there was little to choose between the top-placed competitors.

The event itself put Hartlepool in the spotlight, as it was held at the Carlton club in town.

Carlton staff entertained the audience, which had been bussed in from clubs around the region, before the competition started.

Our 1997 story said Carol may even have been in line for more competitions.

There was talk of her taking on the best in Scotland. Did that competition happen and how did Carol do? Get in touch.

Modest Carol played down her success and said she was only pleased that she had managed to do well for the club.

Last, but by no means least in our list, is the brilliant Len Watson.

The Trimdon track star was still bidding for athletics honours at the time, even though he had reached the age of 82.

By 1997, he was already the proud owner of more than 100 medals for the discus, javelin, long jump and track events.

He had joined Durham City Harriers when he was 70, and the former Army physical training instructor was still training six times a week when he was in his 80s.

Are there any events from 1997 which you would love to reminisce on?

Or perhaps there’s some other aspects of Hartlepool’s history you would like to look back on.

Get in touch and tell us more. Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk