It seems that the whole of the Headland stopped on Tuesday dinnertime to say goodbye to Rose Stubbs.
The Headland is a very special and unique place.
I will, however, get told off by Coun Sheila Griffin for calling it the Headland – it’s Old Hartlepool, she will tell me next time I see her.
The area is full of history and character – and indeed is full of characters.
No character, however, is as big as Rose Stubbs, who died last week at the age of 87.
On her funeral service booklet, it said: “Born and bred, Lived and died, A proud Headlander”.
She was certainly that.
St Mary’s Church was packed for Rose’s funeral. It was standing room only at the back. I think that is entirely fitting for someone who was as special, as funny and as well liked as Rose.
Everybody knew Rose. It used to take her twice as long to get to somewhere as it should have done, because everybody wanted to stop and have a chat with her.
She took an interest in everybody and asked after them in a way that showed she really cared.
She had an astonishing encyclopedic knowledge of people’s backgrounds that I used to envy but also baffle me – she could always say something along the lines of that Jimmy was married to Ethel and they had three kids and they are married to so and so and so on.
Father Seamus, at Rose’s funeral on Tuesday, said that the first house he ever visited was Rose’s and I both like that and think it entirely fitting – it was almost as if the parish priest was starting by saying hello to the first lady of the Headland.
I met her at the first ever branch meeting I attended of the Labour Party.
I recall this tiny little fireball of passion, energy and friendliness and she never ever stopped being like this. She took me under her wing at that first meeting and never let go.
She used to come in the office for a chat after being round the shops and putting her bet on and tell me all the stuff that was going on, on the Headland.
If ever anybody from the Headland needed help, she used to bring them – physically bring them – to me and say: “now Iain you’ve got to help them, they’re nice people from a nice family. Come on, what are you going to do to help?”
She kept me going on election days with her fantastic spread of food.
Her corned beef hash pie was the best I have ever tasted.
Rose meant a lot to me and to the people of the Headland and I wanted to mark her passing in the House of Commons.
I’m so pleased she came down with her daughter Maxine to celebrate her 80th birthday,
For her 85th, I got her in to see Prime Minister’s Questions, and it was the only time that she was ever quiet, although she said to me afterwards she was desperate to shout at David Cameron.
Rose believed in the power of politics as a force for good.
When politics now is derided, and our politicians are seen as in it for ourselves, all the same, or nothing ever changes,
Rose had faith that democracy had the power to change ordinary people’s lives for the better. In her final days, she summoned up what little energy she had to go and vote.
I’ll never forget her principles and will always do what I can in the House of Commons. to follow them. She was a wonderful woman, much loved by many.
My life, like many others, has been made better by knowing Rose Stubbs and I will miss her terribly.
The Headland has lost somebody very special.
All my sympathies – and those of many, many others – go to Maxine, Janine and Patrick and all her family.