Newbiggin-born singer records a song for maritime centre

A TALENTED singer has created an emotional musical legacy for a new tourist attraction about to open in the seaside town where her family has lived for generations.

Susan Robertson

A TALENTED singer has created an emotional musical legacy for a new tourist attraction about to open in the seaside town where her family has lived for generations.

Soprano Susan Robertson was asked to record an acapello version of the traditional folk song, Blow The Wind Southerly, to help launch the £3m Maritime Centre in her home village of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland.

The haunting song – along with a poem and specially-written narration – will accompany a six-minute film showcasing life in Newbiggin from Victorian times, and particularly its unbreakable bonds with the sea.

The film will be shown on a permanent loop to visitors to the flagship centre, which opens its doors on Thursday. Susan, 42, was born and raised in the fishing village, where her great grandfather, William Brown, and grandmother, Janet Todd, were closely involved with the local lifeboat service.

She was asked to record the song by Sheila Harrison, a volunteer at the centre and one of her former teachers at Hirst High School in Ashington, where she developed her vocal skills.

Susan, who is head of service with the Tees Valley Music Service based in Stockton, is a member of the Ravenswood Singers in Heaton, Newcastle, and regularly features as a soloist in concerts, shows and recitals across the North East.

She recorded the song a month ago with Manchester-based company Centre Screen Productions, which was commissioned to produce the film, entitled These Are The Lives We Lived In This Place Down By The Sea.

It showcases old traditions such as local women pulling the Newbiggin lifeboat to its launching place, and includes a re-creation of a rescue by the village’s old Mary Joicey lifeboat. The film will be shown to visitors in a secluded area close to the restored Mary Joicey, which is the centrepiece of the new centre’s displays.

Susan said: “Sheila Harrison has seen the film and told me it moved her to tears when it had all been put together. I feel very honoured to have been asked to do it.

“It was quite emotional to record the song and it is a nice link, given my family’s involvement with the Newbiggin lifeboat over the years. My great grandfather was the lifeboat coxswain and my grandmother was one of the women who used to help launch the lifeboat.

“They wanted something a bit folky, so chose Blow The Wind Southerly, and felt the ideal thing was to have a Newbiggin girl singing it. I’m really, really proud to have been asked to do it, and feel it’s a bit like leaving a legacy to Newbiggin, where generations of my family lived.”

Mrs Harrison, who lives in Newbiggin, said: “Susan has a fabulous voice and has done a really haunting version of the song to introduce the film. We are so pleased to have her to do it, because of her family heritage in Newbiggin.”

 
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