Whilst next week we have the European elections, which I have to say should have been totally unnecessary, this weekend we have Eurovision, with our own Michael Rice representing the United Kingdom.
Michael is in Tel Aviv, Israel, getting ready to make the nation proud with his song ‘Bigger Than Us’, but as a Poolie he has already made his home town and people especially proud.
It certainly is no small feat singing to a predicted global audience of around 200 million, but I know Michael will shine. It truly is magical that our nation is to be represented by one of our own in this world famous event and I wish him every success.
On the subject of music, I was talking to Andy, one of the Doorkeepers (yes that’s actually a job title in the House of Commons), who has many connections in the entertainment industry, although he is too humble to admit it.
I told him about a Swedish band called Sabaton who have recently leant their support to the campaign to raise funds to help keep the Heugh Battery Museum going.
Even the Hartlepool Mail admitted that the support came from an unlikely source, but good old Andy nearly fell off his chair when I asked him about the band.
“Mike they are simply mega on the heavy metal circuit,” he exclaimed. “Very famous and thousands attend their gigs right across the world. They don’t need to promote something like your local museum to get publicity; they have that in bucket loads. It means they really care about the place and what it represents.”
Turns out that the band’s main lyrical themes are based on war, historical battles and acts of heroism. Their new album called ‘The Great War’ contains songs about the First World War, and it’s brilliant that the band are producing special T-shirts with all proceeds from sales going to the museum; the only existing battlefield site in the country. It truly is a fantastic and unexpected gesture and I hope that one day they come and visit or, even better, do a gig here.
I’m looking forward to doing my bit to raise funds this Sunday by joining more than 180 people on the Tommy to Tommy sponsored walk to raise funds for the Battery. It will be a hard slog but well worth it.
Culturally we really are doing well here in Hartlepool. We continue to be a backdrop to successful television programmes like the detective series Vera and the historic drama Victoria, but let’s not forget the home grown talent we have in people like Maxi Bianco in film and the singer Ellen Gowland.
The new film studios at the Northern School of Art will take us forward in leaps and bounds just as ‘The Studio’ has done in the past and other live music venues like ‘The Causeway.’ No wonder we are set to host the prestigious Festival of Illustration.
World renowned illustrators, cartoonists and comic artists will be showcasing their work at the Hartlepool Art Gallery and venues across the town from June 1 to September 15.
It looks like we are in for a real treat and with more than 70,000 visitors attending previous festivals I’m looking forward to the boost it will have on the local economy and to Hartlepool being squarely put on the cultural map.