AS you will have seen in your Mail already, last Wednesday evening at Hardwick Hall was a memorable night.
The second Best of Health Awards were a massively inspiring occasion, celebrating some amazing people who are priceless in their contribution to Hartlepool and district.
As compere, I get one of the best views in the house, seeing some very happy faces and genuine surprise that huge numbers of people thought that the work they do was well worthy of an award.
One lady who deserved her huge standing ovation was Val Wells whose Special Achievement Award recognised a fantastic half century plus of hospital service.
You can read more and see lots of happy faces in the special supplement in tomorrow’s Mail, and everyone who was there will tell you it’s a night which gives you a real buzz.
On the night, I was telling the audience of one of my favourite quotes which came from the death bed of the Duke of Wellington.
He was asked if he had any regrets, and the Duke replied: “I wish I had praised more.”
He was spot on and I don’t care how old or experienced you get, a word or two of praise works wonders.
An American friend once told me that he was a firm believer in the fact that if you told someone he was good, he got better, and if you told him he was bad, he got worse.
The great thing about awards ceremonies is that it motivates everyone there to aim that bit higher.
Another really enjoyable date in the Hartlepool diary is the annual Celebration of Achievement at our College of Further Education.
The next one, later this year, will be particularly special as it will take place in their knockout new building, already a major landmark in the centre of Hartlepool.
I’m looking forward to being the first visitor to take the tour when the building is handed over later this week, so keep an eye on your Mail for that. I suppose my first memory of an awards ceremony was at the age of eleven when I was at the old Henry Smith Grammar School on the Headland.
There was nowhere in the school big enough to hold all 650 pupils at the same time, so the big day was held just down the hill at the Borough Hall.
When I was eleven, I thought that place to be the biggest building in the world, and it always looked great with twinkling lights and floral displays.
It was known as a speech day then and we were immaculate in school uniform (woe betide us if we weren’t) and the teaching staff looked like a different race in their flowing and colourful academic gowns.
The one thing that I remember like yesterday was a moment of unscripted humour involving a bumbling local dignitary who was presenting the awards, and our headmaster who did not suffer fools gladly.
Thinking back, the bigwig must have had a substantial liquid lunch before taking the stage, and his powers of concentration were being overtaken by an urge to snooze.
Just after we’d all made the rafters ring by singing Jerusalem, the big cheese stood up and slurred, “The school will now sing Jerusalem.”
The head tugged his sleeve and whispered in his ear.
Repeating every word he had just had delivered, he announced;
“You fool, they have just sung Jerusalem.”
They don’t do them like that any more, which may be just as well.
l Don’t miss tomorrow’s Mail for our special 16-page Health Awards supplement.