Hartlepool woman’s scrapbook shows her mum was pillar of community

Audrey McClelland was a Hartlepool woman who made such a difference to community groups in Hartlepool.
Audrey McClelland was a Hartlepool woman who made such a difference to community groups in Hartlepool.

Lisa Empson could not be more proud.

She always knew her mum Audrey McClelland was involved in community groups in Hartlepool.

Lisa Empson, who is following in the footsteps of her mum.

Lisa Empson, who is following in the footsteps of her mum.

But the true extent of Audrey’s worth was only really discovered after her passing, when Lisa found the scrapbook her mum had kept.

It is filled with letters and cuttings of the groups Audrey had helped in her lifetime, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. And now Lisa is determined to follow in the footsteps of her mum.

Many people may remember Audrey who was 89 when she died in the summer of 2015.

She was a Hartlepool woman through and through. She will be fondly recalled as someone who set up many town organisations, especially arts and crafts groups.

Her sterling work was put back in the spotlight in a recent edition of the Hartlepool Mail’s Memory Lane section which Lisa spotted.

It included photograph which showed Audrey and the fellow members of the Rossmere Ladies Club.

It prompted proud Lisa to get in touch and tell us more about her mum.

Lisa said: “Mum died last summer, but in her lifetime she formed many craft and friendship groups, making things and selling them for charity.”

Lisa found the scrapbook of her newspaper cuttings. It also contained all the letters of thanks that she got from organisations she had done excellent work for, such as the North East Kidney Patients Association, Friends of Thornhill School, the Hartlepool Committee for the Deaf and the Friends of the Asthma Research Council.

Audrey helped them all by either donating money or making wnderful gifts. It showed how she was involved in everything from the Hartlepool Handicrafts Club to producing toys and novelties herself for worthy causes.

In other words, she was a veritable treasure.

She also made donations to charities and, as Lisa puts it, they were “not small amounts.”

It was a source of absolute pride for Lisa who has been inspired to make her own impact on the town.

She said: “The scrapbook is my most precious possession. Mum created lots of women’s groups and craft groups and I can see in one of the letters which was one she sent to the Mail.”

Lisa was born in Hartlepool herself and moved away, but returned to the town three years ago.

The ground floor of her Headland home is also a gallery space and she opens it “every once in a while” as a space for artists to display their work, as well as her own.

She wants to encourage artists to get in touch and said; “To give people that confidence would be wonderful.”

To find out more about Lisa and the opportunity to exhibit in her premises, visit her website at www.localartandcrafts.co.uk which Lisa has dedicated to the memory of her mum.

Lisa is also available to give talks for free to any group that would welcome her involvement.