Mike Hill: Hartlepool people are a true inspiration

Tom doing the wing walk. Photo by Tom's nephew Garry Brown.
Tom doing the wing walk. Photo by Tom's nephew Garry Brown.

You’ve got to take your hat off to 72-year-old Tom Wilson, from Elwick Road, who raised over £3,000 for charity recently by wing walking!

trapped to a bi-plane this fearless septuagenarian reached speeds of over 135 mph during his daredevil stunt above Selby, North Yorkshire, and all to raise funds for the Hartlepool Blind Welfare Society and Guide Dogs for the Blind. What a hero and yet another example of your typical caring and public-spirited Hartlepudlian. Well done, Tom, you did us proud.

Equally impressive is the work of Hartlepool Teaching Assistant Pam Richards, who works at the Sunnyside Academy in Coulby Newham in Middlesbrough. Pam invited me to the school after I participated in a Westminster Hall debate on whether British Sign Language should be part of the school curriculum, to experience for myself how deaf and hearing-impaired children from Hartlepool and across the Tees Valley are educated. I visited last Friday, meeting children from the town, visiting classes led by the most inspirational and enthusiastic of teachers and ultimately to witness an exceptional signed story reading by Pam herself. I was literally stunned and in awe of everybody and everything. I remember having deaf neighbours as a student in Liverpool, a partially deaf neighbour once in Hartlepool and a work colleague who is rapidly losing their hearing; this visit made me ashamed that I really don’t even know rudimentary BSL and I’m determined to do something about that.

Thanks also to the students at Sunnyside, who all took time out to present me with a petition to get BSL on the curriculum.

Speaking of children, I am not happy over plans by NHS England to transfer intensive neonatal care from North Tees Hospital to the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, and I have made my views plain to the powers that be. We have an excellent maternity unit at Hartlepool Hospital, which is currently under used, but when it comes to urgent critical care the intensive care unit at North Tees, staffed by many Hartlepool Nurses and support staff, offers a second to none service to Hartlepool mothers and their babies. As good friends in the union movement know, I am slightly hamstrung on this issue as I am not the MP covering the hospital affected. It’s also a smack in the face following yet more post-EU false promises over NHS funding announced by the Government only this week.

Finally, with Armed Forces Day coming up; the centenary of the end of the Great War; the recent celebrations for the Royal Family; and England currently taking part in the World Cup, I have approached the council to ask if they would consider flying the Union Flag and St George’s Cross from the first two flagpoles outside the Civic Centre.

At a time when society is so divided around politics and identity, I believe it would be a step in the right direction to see the council take this small act to reflect national pride. Let’s get behind our national team during the World Cup.