Missing education

DURING the current Covid crisis, concern has been raised over the effect of the precautions on children’s education.

Those of us of a certain age may recall the situation in the early 1940s when teachers were in the Forces and rural schools, in particular, were deluged with evacuees. Temporary accommodation and interrupted/part time education affected children across the land. But, we survived and prepared a generation of children who grew up to successfully guide us all through an era of cultural and technical development the likes of which we had not seen before.

So, if school closure will help with controlling the Covid virus or any other crisis, what is there to worry about?

In my experience I have found that many capable people “missed the bus” at 11, 16 or 18 years old, or whatever age was considered critical at the time.

These people, who developed through various routes available were bright enough to make the red hot technology of the day, work.

It is regrettable that some people lose their way and may miss the opportunities and available to so many others, but if early selection deprives the practical end of the workforce of the intelligent people necessary to drive modern technology, there will be little point in having it in the first place.

Bryan Butler, Spennithorne, Leyburn.

Fight it together

HAVING heard the devastating news that families cannot meet up over Christmas because of the unprecedented pandemic we all find ourselves in, is it not time that Parliament came together for the sake of the whole country?

Now, more that ever, is not the time for political points scoring or criticism by opposition members against the government.

We, as a nation, will be best served by a parliament that works as one body to fight this pandemic.

The priority now is to have everyone vaccinated as soon as possible and to those people who are opposed to vaccination, I say this – you are risking the lives of others by your misguided opinions and decisions, this country needs everyone to come together in this fight.

We must invoke the spirit of Winston Churchill who brought the whole country together in the Second World War.

And Europe must be reminded that it was this country, along with its allies, that stopped Europe from becoming nations under the German jackboot.

We demand our sovereign rights to govern our own country and must not allow the European Union to take that away from us.

Please please please, let us all take responsibility to eliminate this pandemic once and for all. In the words of Lord Kitchener: “Your Country Needs You”

Peter J Monck, Yarm.

Aid reduction

YOU have had a number of letters supporting maintaining the current overseas aid budget. I would just like to add that two ex-prime ministers from opposite sides of the political spectrum, David Cameron and Tony Blair, both agree that the proposed cut in aid is wrong. To quote David Cameron it would be “a moral, strategic and political mistake”.

To get such figures to concur strongly suggests that the reduction in aid should be reconsidered.

A Mannix, Stokesley.

Looking back

AS usual I enjoyed the Looking Back article (D&S Times, Dec 18), particularly the mention of Whorlton Bridge and Sir Samuel Brown the architect/engineer responsible for the suspension bridge and the, perhaps, even more famous Union Bridge near Horncliffe in Northumberland.

I remember well, when working in Northumberland for the county council some 40 years ago, driving across the bridge and eating my lunch on the far bank so I could tell my wife I had had lunch in Scotland.

I also was fascinated by the Erle-Drax boundary stone mentioned on the Ellerton Abbey estate. I was interested to hear that the Observer (the Sunday Guardian) had reported calls for the current estate owner to pay reparations to Barbados for his ancestor’s involvement in the use of slaves in the 18th Century.

This is an interesting point but it also made me think that our Government should, without further delay, make similar calls to the City of Rome for the abominable treatment of the indigenous British population during the Roman occupation from 55BC until 410 AD.

In addition, Scandinavian governments (in whatever proportion) should be called upon to apologise for the rape and pillage of the Norsemen (“From the fury of the Norsemen may the good lord deliver us”) and, subsequently, the French president should make appropriate restitution for the 1066 invasion, particularly in this area, the merciless ‘Harrying of the North’ which laid waste so much of our land that it was not worthy of mention in The Domesday Book.

Or do not such events rate consideration by the Liberal movement of today?

John E Howe, Bedale.

Drax family seat

AS a Dorset born D&S reader with close family ties to the Charborough Park area of Dorset I felt compelled to point out that the Drax family’s Dorset seat is Charborough Park, not Charnborough Park, which I believe can be found in the East Midlands. Still, it was as usual, a very interesting piece. Many thanks.

Bob Riggs, Northallerton.

A weighty issue

TOM BANFIELD is quite correct (D&S Times letters, Dec 18). I was the culprit who muddled the weights, not Chris Lloyd. I should have written eight stone = 1 cwt or 112lb.

Peter Marwood, Richmond.

Officer’s death

AT present, we are all concerned with the Covid-19 crisis, and arrangements for the Christmas period.

However, I would like to draw readers’ attention to the centenary of the death of Inspector John Burney in tragic circumstances. My research indicates he is the only officer from the Middlesbrough, Teesside, and Cleveland Constabularies, to have died in criminal circumstances. Although a widower, I wonder if there are any descendants, or relatives, in the area. The circumstances were that on Christmas Day 1920, Inspector John Burney suffered fatal head injuries after he was attacked by drunks, as he helped colleagues break up a street fight in Middlesbrough. Inspector Burney, 45, was serving with the Middlesbrough County Borough Police when he was killed on duty.

About 10.30pm the father of two attended a street fight involving several men in Vaughan Street, Middlesbrough.

Three constables had arrested a man for being drunk and disorderly, but a crowd gathered and began demanding the prisoner be released.

Inspector Burney and a colleague tried to help and as they arrested another man, the crowd rushed the officers. The inspector was struck on the back of the head and “butted” several times in the stomach. Their prisoner escaped in the melee.

Inspector Burney returned to the police station but complained of feeling unwell. He collapsed and died 20 minutes later.

The Chief Constable, Henry Riches, praised the widower as a “conscientious, courteous, loyal and fearless” officer. The Gazette reported on the tragic death of one of the town’s most popular officers, describing how his death had cast gloom over Teesside. The front page headline was “Tragic sequel to Christmas night brawl.”

Three men were charged with manslaughter but were found not guilty.

David Williams, Great Ayton.

Protect the NHS

THE NHS might be up for grabs by US corporations if we don’t get it protected in the Trade Bill that’s heading back to the Commons in January after two vital protections were supported by the Lords.

Back in July, the Tories voted down those important amendments which will allow MPs vital scrutiny over the Trade Bill and specific protections for NHS services from being given away in trade deals.

Peter Gibson, Tory MP for Darlington, didn’t vote to support those amendments and has stated that he doesn’t think they’re necessary. Why not, Mr Gibson?

It would stop American firms bidding for NHS contracts or negotiating to raise drug prices – but he thinks it’s enough that we trust the government to do the right thing now and in future.

Like everyone else, my family relies on the NHS for our lives and our health. I want cast-iron protection against it being given to private corporations in the USA or anywhere else. I urge readers to ask Mr Gibson – or any other local Tory MP – to support these two amendments in January.

James Simpson, Darlington.

Good TV

WHAT a pleasure it was to watch Mortimer and Whitehouse programme “Gone Fishing” in and around Middlesbrough on the BBC on Sunday, December 14.

The production staff and stars deserve an award for producing such a lovely hour of laughter and amusement, plus a visit from Chris Rea.

Well done, a decent watch, not forgetting the dog.

P Rees, Darlington.

Jobs transfer

THE movement government departments to the North-East would fill the pockets of house builders, and provide much cash for local councils via house tax, also increased shop footfall.

However, this is supposing existing London staff move north. Is this in fact the plan?

If so, then the move will do nothing for the local area’s unemployment figures, other than a few labourer-type jobs, office cleaning and canteen work – and these will probably come via some dubious agency.

We need some honest comment – is the wholesale transfer of London staff proposed? If so, the promised “jobs bonanza” will not materialise.

G B Butler, Stockton-on-Tees.