One of Wallsend’s most famous exports has given his backing to one of the town’s oldest community buildings.
Sting has agreed to become a cultural patron of Wallsend Memorial Hall, known locally as the Mem, almost 130 years after it first opened its doors.
His support comes at the perfect time for the hall as it is currently undergoing a £1.4 million transformation that will restore it to its original Victorian splendour and bring its facilities up to date.
The Frank Street hall opened in 1883, thanks to a donation from shipyard founder George Burton Hunter.
Maureen Madden, the hall’s chief officer, said: "With the restoration of the hall under way, we thought this would be the perfect time to ask Sting to get involved, and we were absolutely thrilled when he agreed to lend us his support.
"When the restoration is complete in the summer, we will have a world-class community facility, while still preserving the building that Sting would recall from growing up close by."
Sting was born in Wallsend in 1951, living in Gerald Street and Station Road, and often helping out on his dad’s milk round.
Sting, back on Tyneside at the weekend for a concert at the Sage Gateshead, grew up to become a teacher in Cramlington before finding fame with rock band The Police.
The 60-year-old, christened Gordon Sumner, said: "The Mem is a local landmark I remember well from my boyhood in Wallsend. It’s such an important social, cultural and educational service that I’m very happy to support it."
In addition to the refurbishment of the hall itself, the restoration of the building will also include a new entrance and café, providing an additional community space.
The completed building will be able to host everything from a sit-down dinner to a theatre performance, dance or business meeting, enabling it to fulfil its traditional role with all of the amenities that modern users demand.
Mrs Madden added: "We’re very much looking forward to a bright future for the Mem, and receiving Sting’s backing was a wonderful start to a very exciting year for us."
(c) News Guardian