The best values of the North East
This week many young people across the region will be celebrating their A Level results. A Levels are the result of years of hard work and self discipline, with students learning an important lesson that by putting something in, you can get something worthwhile in return.
I don’t envy the task facing young people today, especially in the North East, as they set about pursuing their aspirations. It certainly is tough out there and they have my utmost respect and encouragement.
In a world where the pursuit of celebrity and instant gratification is sold by the media as somehow worthwhile and easily obtainable, A-levels require a long-sighted viewpoint, a commitment to hard work and the personal strength to pursue future goals a long way off.
Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell-Boyce, the Director and Writer of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, declared their joy at seeing the magic they had dreamed of brought to life after years of hard work, by a cast of volunteers in front of a global audience. They steered clear of celebrating celebrity and opted instead to cast light on the people and achievements too often overlooked by society as a whole.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, our country’s greatest engineer, was instrumental in bringing about the modern industrial era through designing bridges, tunnels and docks that transformed the nation. The National Health Service, established under the guidance of the great Labour politician Aneurin Bevan, also took a starring role. Such strong role models are important for young people and counter the media focus on celebrity culture that so often sends the wrong message to children and adolescents.
Many people locally will also have known the late David Guy, a great friend of mine and a great working class hero. His service to the mining communities in our area benefited thousands of people locally. In an industry where young people often started work aged as young as 15 years, often in just 36 inch coal seams, for instance at Dawdon Colliery, David became a champion of workers’ rights. He was born to mining family in Seaham and spent his entire life working for others. His solidarity stretched from his local communities to supporting struggles by the Liverpool Dockers in the 1990s to today’s Spanish Miners striking in defence of their jobs.
The Great Miners Strike of 1984/85 was where David demonstrated his utter commitment to his comrades and union members. The great example he set throughout his life should be a lesson to all young people, as well as aspiring trade union and Labour leaders. His legacy will include re-establishing the Durham Miners Gala as the premier political and trade union demonstration in the county.
Those young people celebrating their hard work this week need every encouragement to carry on their hard work in whatever direction they so choose.