What’s next?

“Fiddler’s Green” Fishermen’s Memorial being made in Ray Lonsdale’s workshop

Yes indeed … what’s next?

Since December 2015 I’ve been helping the North Shields Fishermen’s Heritage Project (NSFHP) raise £75,000 for a Memorial to fishermen lost at sea from the port of North Shields. I was responsible for Press/PR/Social Media/the newsletter …. amongst other things.

By May 2017 the £75,000 target was reached and on 24 September 2017 the 2.25x life size cor-ten steel memorial was in place on the North Shields Fish Quay. It took about 10 months of serious fundraising to get to the target with the help of the local community, local businesses, Trusts and North Tyneside Council.

So it’s in situ – and I have left the Project to pursue other projects.

The Group continue for another year with a view to carrying out the things outlined at their AGM in December:-

A Memorial Book

Working with Amber films

An Annual Fiddler’s Green Day event on/around 24th September

… and what about me? …. “What’s Next?”

The priority first and foremost is to get back into shape – the last two years sat at a PC writing press articles, newsletters etc for NSFHP together with being a slave to social media to get the word out about the project has paid a toll (a large one!) on my waist line – I need to shed several pounds 🙂

I have joined a gym and have signed up to five classes a week – so I am really hoping to see some positive results soon!

Unfortunately I will still be somewhat ‘chained to the PC’, because as well as pursuing my photography in 2018 (which entails some sitting at a PC) – I also plan to write a book about how the fishermen’s memorial was made.

I visited the sculptors workshop 15 times and photographed it being made – so it seems a natural step really to do something with the 400+ so far (there are more) edited photographs.

2018 is therefore looking quite busy and exciting from where I am ‘sitting’ – or should I say from where I am ‘leaping about’!

Here are a few images by way of a sneaky little peek …

On your marks!

I wasn’t actually at the start line of the annual North Tyneside 10k – as I didn’t enter it this year…. but at the last minute I decided to take a quick walk down to the fish quay area with my camera and take a few shots instead!

I literally just made it when the lead runners hove into view – grabbed my camera out of it’s bag and began.

The runners were through in less than 20 minutes – I probably wouldn’t stand quite so close to the start next time as it really didn’t give me much of a chance to get many shots. They were coming through thick and fast. Far easier to photograph runners as they approach the end of the run as they are spaced out more.

Most looked pretty good though as they still had ‘fresh legs’ – some even gave me the ‘thumbs up’ or a little wave as they passed.

One “cheeky little devil” – who I shall refer to simply as “John McG” from Ponteland Runners went one step further ….. 🙂 Clearly a little bit giddy at the thought of the steep incline up to Tynemouth Priory that he was about to hit!


It was great to see so many having fun as they did it – “almost” made me want to sign up for next year …. but so far I have resisted the urge!

I only saw one fella – Kevin – who appeared to have had a bit of a tumble – but seemed to be continuing on regardless – that would have been my cue to pack in to be honest! What a trooper!


One shot did make me laugh mind – all the runners giving the guy running for “Vegan Runners” a really wide birth! They didn’t seem to want to catch him in a hurry! Too many brussel sprouts perhaps?!


Hey ho – Feet up until next year! 🙂


Over and Out!

Well almost… after 15 years I will be ‘logging off’ tomorrow for the last time and leaving my ‘day job’.

Mixed feelings about it– but mainly utter joy at being set free from the 9-5 and being able to do what I actually really want to do (whatever that is – It’ll probably involve photography in some way, because that’s when I am happiest… camera in hand).

I get really emotional when I think about the fact that I am 52 years old and I haven’t really “done” anything…. not anything I particularly enjoyed or wanted to do that is. I would imagine my grand-kids Lola and Elliott asking me “What did you do for a job Nana” – and replying with “Oh, I sold shares to people.” I know what Lola would shout back at me for sure “…. BORING!”
And she’d be right.

The one and only piece of “advice” (for want of a better word) that I would ever give to my grand- kids would be “Find something you want to do in life, something you enjoy doing.”

The various ‘jobs’ that I have had over the years have afforded a nice lifestyle, holidays, pension etc BUT … it’s been a means to an end – something I have ‘endured’…. But can’t endure anymore…. Because now it’s making me miserable …. No way to live the one relatively short life that we have.

It really is true : “Money does not make you happy”.

I used to scoff at this and think “Yeah, Yeah”- but as my step-daughter Kate keeps telling me “Health is wealth” – and she’s right, so before I went completely bonkers I decided ‘enough was enough’ and handed my notice in.

That was a big weight off my shoulders! Goodness knows what I will actually do – but whatever it is I going to make damned sure I make the most of it!

I haven’t exactly written a “To-Do” list, but I kinda have one or two things in my head to get sorted first off in the New Year.

I’m really excited about a Project that I have lined up which I need to get some funding for – it’s working title is “From Steel to Real : The Making of a Memorial”.

The details have yet to be ironed out (and agreed with the sculptor), but in essence I plan to do time-lapse photography (and other stuff) of the sculptor, Ray Lonsdale, making the Fishermen’s Memorial Fiddler’s Green in North Shields which I have been helping to raise funds for over the last 12 months.

I hope to have an exhibition at the end of it, once the memorial is in situ on the North Shields Fish Quay. I like making an exhibition of myself!

A year ago when my hubby Keith and I set out to help the North Shields Fishermen’s Heritage Project (NSFHP) raise circa £75,000 for a memorial to fishermen lost at sea from the port of North Shields, people would ask me “Why on earth are you doing this?”

Bearing in mind I’m a veggie and cannot abide the smell of fish – this was a reasonable question to ask I suppose!

However, bearing in mind the enormous success the whole team at NSFHP have had (we are half way there), I’m pretty sure that by the end of 2017 – people will be asking “How did you do actually do that?!!”

And do you know what? When I see the fantastic 2.25x life-size sculpture on the foreshore which will be there for 150 years+, I will be immensely proud of my efforts and will take Lola and Elliott for a walk down there and say “Pops and I helped get the money for that sculpture”.

Hopefully Lola will say “…Wow Nana!” (but I won’t hold my breath!)

It’s O-FISH-al


Henry Howard (Vice Chairman of NSFHP) – it was his idea to start the memorial fund


It’s been a while since I posted a blog (just in case anybody has noticed)!

I have been ultra-busy working with the North Shields Fishermen’s Heritage Project (NSFHP) pretty much every spare moment I have had since Christmas.

The Group, is made up of fishermen, retired fishermen and people like myself who are not connected to the fishing industry – all working towards the same goal of raising around £75,000.

Banner stands 1 and 2

Dave, Terry, Henry and Charlie with our new banner stands


NSFHP is a community based project dedicated to creating a fitting and lasting memorial to fishermen who left the port of North Shields and lost their lives just doing their job.

Commercial fishing is the UK’s toughest and most dangerous peacetime occupation.

The Group believe that North Shields (England’s largest Prawn Port) should have a memorial to fishermen lost at sea. North Shields is one of the few ports in the UK that doesn’t have one and we’d like to put that right – so we are raising funds for a memorial and a place for reflection on the North Shields Fish Quay.

Terry McDermott (L) and Henry Howard (R)

Terry (L) and Henry with our collection tins – overlooking the site where the memorial will be (on the grass overlooking Tynemouth Piers)


We have spent a fair bit of time getting all the building blocks in place to start raising funds in earnest…. Things such as :-

  •  Applying for a grant to enable us to buy banner stands, business cards, flyers, Public Liability Insurance and other marketing materials to get the word out. We can’t of course use money donated by people to the memorial.
  • Working with North Tyneside Council to firm up how they are prepared to assist us.
  •  Setting up a website www.nsfhp.org.uk
  •  Getting ourselves established on Social Media sites such as:-
  •  Twitter @nsfh_Project
  • LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/north-shields-fishermen-s-heritage-project-398098116
  • Facebook – North Shields Fishermens Heritage Project
  • Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/1/116449651483973775339/posts
  • And last, but certainly not least we have an on-line donation page – https://www.goldengiving.com/charity/north-shields-fishermens-heritage-project

    We have also written a Sculptors Brief and have invited four sculptors to submit their drawings to us. These are now all in so the Group need to select the ones they wish to put forward to a public vote. Asking the public to donate money for something they cannot envisage is really hard – so we wanted to get the design for the memorial sorted as soon as we could.


Voting opens on 18 July for 3 months (last day will be 17 October) – we are asking for people to vote for the memorial that they would MOST like to see on the fish quay.

The chosen designs will be on display, together with examples of the chosen sculptors work at our lunch event – at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre – which is just a few weeks away now – Monday 18 July.

If you live locally please call in and say hi!

It will be open to the public 10am-4pm

Here’s where it is – https://www.goldengiving.com/event/LaunchEventOLL


Terry McDermott (L) and Henry Howard (R) holding cheque from R W Mann

Terry (L) The Chairman and Henry chuffed to bits we got a £1,000 grant from R W Mann for marketing materials



Caught in “The Net” …

Well.. It’s been a while since my last blog.. 3 months to be precise! Oops!

So… Excuses? Well loads actually.. But I won’t bore you…. Just lots of good stuff going on which has eaten into my time in a big way!

The biggest and most exciting thing is that The Net in North Shields have asked me to put on my “Distant Voices” audio/visual WW2 exhibition (which one of their trustees had seen in August at Newcastle City Library when it first showed for a week) …in the top floor of their exhibition space at The Old Low Light Heritage Centre (The Net)!
“The Net” (that’s ‘fishing’ net.. And bringing people of all ages together kind of net … Not ‘inter’ net) is a charity group developing a centre in the Old Low Light on North Shields Fish Quay celebrating its past, present and future.

It is supported with funds from North Tyneside Council, through their ‘Big Society Community Investment Fund’, Heritage Lottery funding and The Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust, but essentially relies on donations, volunteers, holding events and selling products in their shop and cafe to support itself.

My husband Keith has recently retired (lucky devil) and is now one of the volunteers at The Old Low Light Heritage Centre (The Net)…. That’s when he’s not assisting and promoting Alison Spedding Photography! 🙂

Some of my seascapes and cityscape images (framed or just mounted), together with Greetings Cards are now on sale in the shop/cafe at The Net too.

My prints and cards for sale! Bargains to be had!

My prints and cards for sale! Bargains to be had!

The Shop at The Net - open 10am - 4pm 7 days a week

The Shop at The Net – open 10am – 4pm 7 days a week

The Old Low Light Heritage Centre is a fantastic location for an exhibition…


Bright and spacious with plenty of wall space for hanging images.

…  with great views up the River Tyne

View from Exhibition Space window

View from Exhibition Space window of the Low Light

A stone’s throw from the Fish Quay…

Fish Quay and the Low Light - The Old Low Light Heritage Centre (The Net) is right next to the Low Light

Fish Quay and the Low Light – (The Net) is right next to the Low Light

There’s even a viewing platform – which will be great to stand on and take a few shots on a summers afternoon (a bit chilly in January though!)

From the Viewing Platform

I’m adapting the Exhibition from the version that I put on in August 2014 for the 3 week run in North Shields Old Low Light (The Net).

I’m adding a PowerPoint presentation to run alongside the audio track of the “Voices” this time… and maybe a few “artefacts” to bring it to life.

So still plenty of work to do before the opening day on 8 May 2015 – the 70th anniversary of “VE- Day”!

Because it’s such a new centre, part of the marketing of the event will be spreading the word about where The Old Low Light Heritage Centre (The Net) is… Everybody I’ve mentioned it to so far doesn’t know where it is… So if you don’t know either ….IT’S HERE.. Tell your friends please!

The Old Low Light, Clifford’s Fort, North Shields, Fish Quay, NE30 1JA

It’s open 7 days a week –  10am to 4pm

Plenty of parking and a  bike rack

Plenty of parking and a bike rack (for fit people!)

The Net at The Old Low Light, Fishquay, North Shields

The Old Low Light, Fish Quay, North Shields

Stories and photographs of local people recounting their memories of what life was like living through WW2 and the immediate aftermath in the North East plus first hand stories from Jack, then a boy of 17 who left home to train and subsequently fight at Monte Cassino in Italy.

“Ordinary” people … With extraordinary stories

In a world without mobile phones, no Internet, rationing, evacuation… A time of ‘Make do and mend’…

I wanted to capture the stories and share them with young children before it’s too late to hear them first hand.

Some of the stories are funny – others sad – but all alien to the way we live out lives today…..

This is Eileen – one of my voices… A neighbour of mine for 10 years before she moved into a care home.

Eileen - We were ... ONE!

Eileen – We were … ONE!

I took this photograph of her in April 2014 for the exhibition.

Eileen unfortunately passed away at the beginning of January 2015, just a couple of weeks before her 92nd birthday.

I visited her just before Christmas for the last time and took this final photo of her…..

Eileen - December 2014

Eileen – December 2014

I have just listened to Eileen’s stories from the Exhibition again whilst writing this .. and it’s even more poignant now that she has passed away .. But her memory lives on….

“Distant Voices” The Net, North Shields (The Old Low Light) – Friday 8 May to Monday 25 May

So why not put a note in your diary and then ‘pop along’ – see the exhibition … have a coffee … oh … and maybe buy a local scene A4 mounted print (a snip at £17.99 or framed for £29.99), a 10″x8″ framed print for £24.99 or a greetings card for £2.50 from the shop!

Something for every budget and a portion of sales help towards keeping the Old Low Light in business ! 🙂

Examples of the local prints on sale…

Tynemouth Pier

Tynemouth Pier 10″ x 8″ framed £24.99

Tynemouth Priory  the Pier at sunrise - complete with reflections!

Tynemouth Priory the Pier at sunrise – complete with reflections!

Tynemouth Priory  the Pier at sunrise

Tynemouth Priory the Pier at sunrise

The Tyne Bridge taken from The Side

The Tyne Bridge taken from The Side

C5 size with a 6" x 4" photo attached - wide choice of images available

C5 size with a 6″ x 4″ photo attached – wide choice of images available

Blank white insert for you to write your message

Blank white insert for you to write your message

“Distant Voices” The Net (Old Low Light Heritage Centre) North Shields – Friday 8 May 2015 to Monday 25 May 2015

“Ordinary” people … With extraordinary stories

The Old Low Light, Clifford’s Fort, North Shields, Fish Quay, NE30 1JA

It’s open 7 days a week –  10am to 4pm

The exhibition is not open on Wednesday’s.

Hope to see you there!


It’s all a bit fishy …!

The Net North Shields responded to one of my tweets suggesting that there would be loads of great close ups that I could shoot down on North Shields Fish Quay…. So I thought I’d brave the smell of fish and go check it out!

The temptation on North Shields Fish Quay is to shoot landscapes or street scenes – lots of interesting things going on – great views of fishing boats, the Piers, fishermen, seagulls … all forms of life are here! So I did a few of those first…

North Shields Fish Quay

North Shields Fish Quay

Fish Quay and the Low Light

Fish Quay and the Low Light

Fisherman mending his nets

Fisherman mending his nets

..and a rusty old boat!

And a rusty old boat!

I don’t hail from North Shields originally – my origins are the warm waters of the South China Sea rather than the biting cold North Sea (so I’m a real ‘Southern Softie’).

Most of my husbands family have worked on the Fish Quay at one point or another though. His Mum filleted fish at her fathers filleting shed (William Levett’s), his Dad was a book keeper at Richard Irvin’s (now a Brasserie) and one of his uncle’s worked as a driver at Rutherfords, another uncle worked for Tyne Brand as did my husband’s brother.

Irvin's Brasserie

Irvin’s Brasserie

For a very short time my husband even worked on the Fish Quay for Hunters (motor and marine engineers), but when he was asked to clean the fuel tank of a boat tied up at the dock, knee deep in diesel fuel… He was overcome by the fumes, was sick and soon realised that a career as a Marine Engineer was probably not for him!

My husbands son, Alex fared somewhat better and is now 2nd engineer on the Arnold Maersk, a huge container ship!

His Grandfather William Levett worked at the Low Lights in the early 1960’s

… So it’s a small world in the twitterspere! We must have been destined to ‘Follow’ one another…

Levett family folklore even claims that their fish business was ‘requisitioned’ by the war office during WW2 and the family fortune was lost forever in the process! It’s a nice story (but I really hope it isn’t true!)

Twenty five years ago when I was introduced to the area as a place to come and live, I was brought down to the fish quay for the ‘grand tour’ of where my future husband’s roots lay.

My abiding memory of that first visit is of turning a corner to be faced by a bucket full of rotting fish guts.

The smell …. Oooo I can still smell it now! And I’m afraid to say I threw up on the spot.…. I told you I was a ‘Southern Softie’!

The worst I found today was a bucket full of rag worms.. Yuck!!
Oooooo I held my breath to take this one …



Marrying a Geordie …. by default, I also became a Geordie – albeit an ‘adopted Geordie’…. And I’m ashamed to say that I still can’t stand the smell of fish (fresh or rotting) … So forearmed with a peg on my nose … 🙂 I set out on my bike for the Fish Quay to get ‘up close and personal’ with some of the sights and smells …

Up close and personal!

Up close and personal!

Here’s a few of the images that I took on my trip … it’s amazing what beautiful things are out there hidden in plain view…

Sri Lankan fisherman

Sri Lankan fisherman

I was expecting a bucket of fish heads when I peered in ... Phew!

I was expecting a bucket of fish heads when I peered in … Phew!

So ‘Thank You’ to The Net North Shields …you were right …the Fish Quay is littered with material for interesting close up shots … I enjoyed my morning tour – a cuppa and a bit of cake in your Café would have been lovely – but guess I’ll have to wait for Opening Day …. I’ll definitely be down for a look!

Good luck!