AN annual celebration that attracts visitors from around the world has been cancelled after a community stalwart was left fighting for his life.
The Peterlee Tattoo Arts Festival has drawn people from across the globe to East Durham for the last decade and it was set to be held again at the end of this month.
But organiser Eddie Hardiman, 64, from Horden, is recovering after undergoing life-saving surgery and the tattoo community is still mourning the death of regular compere Alan ‘Big Al’ Addleton, who died aged just 50 in December last year.
Eddie’s family say they cannot carry on with the show, but hope to be back in 2014.
Eddie, who is married to Brenda, had spent seven weeks in James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, with his family at his bedside after surgeons carried out a triple-heart bypass in early December last year.
Trudy Hardy, Eddie’s daughter and fellow organiser, said: “I would like to thank everyone who has sent their well wishes to my dad and the family on his recovery.
“He has been very poorly and is now home, but his lengthy recovery will deter him from being present at the show.
“I would also like to apologise to all who make the event possible, tattoo artists, traders and of course all attendees, for cancelling the event at such short notice. But please keep your eyes peeled for 2014’s date and we hope it can be better than ever.”
Organisers had received devastating news on December 21 last year when Alan, from Horden, died suddenly after being involved with the show for all of its previous 10 years. Alan, who turned 50 at the show in 2012, spent a lot of his time raising money for charities and helping to organise events in the area.
Eddie’s family, who run Eddie’s Tattoo Studio, in Third Street, Horden, decided the show could not go ahead this year without both men there.
Trudy, of Morpeth Street, Horden, added: “We feel as organisers that his boots are too much to fill in such a short space of time.
“He will be a huge miss by ourselves and we would like to let his family know that our thoughts are with them.
“Big Al will always be remembered.”
The show was scheduled to take place at Peterlee Leisure Centre on Sunday, March 24.