Whether it’s driving a bus, helping Russian seaman, watching non-league football or avoiding shaking Margaret Thatcher’s hand, Albert Tate has always doing everything with real gusto.
Albert, who lives in one of our Aged Miners Homes in Marsden Road, South Shields, describes himself as a “journeyman” when it comes to the jobs he has done over the years.
Starting as an apprentice on the docks, moving to drive buses, back to the docks, serving as a councillor, then becoming Mayor of South Tyneside, he has seen and done a lot and is not short of a story or two.
Like when he was faced with the prospect of shaking Margaret Thatcher’s hand at the opening of the Nissan plant in Sunderland.
He recalls: “I was Mayor at the time, and this was in 1986 so after everything that gone before like the Miners’ Strike, so it’s fair to say as a region we were not her greatest supporters.
“I was there with my Mayoral chains on and she comes over and I am thinking please don’t try and shake my hand.
“Rather than doing this she got hold of my chain and asked me something about it. I said it was made in Jarrow and as there had just been another Jarrow March I think she then thought better of shaking my hand, which was fine with me!”
Albert also shares a story of when he was working at the docks.
He says: “When the Russian sailors came, they went to Argos and brought back on single catalogue, so of course we asked them why they did this.
“They told it was because they could show their wives what could be bought in the UK; obviously this was at a time when they would have not been allowed to bring anything back with them.
“Except, because Lada cars were in so much demand in Russian, what they did do was ask us to look out for any secondhand ones they could buy and when they got them the stripped them down completely to take part as parts.”
Albert moved into our Aged Miners’ Homes with his wife Pat five years ago, having downsized from their family home in South Shields. They have five children and four grandchildren.
He adds: “Everyone still lives close by so even though we’re in a smaller house, it’s always buzzing in here.”
Albert, who loves watching his beloved South Shields play football, is one of our resident representatives and also is a member of our scrutiny committee. He says it is a great privilege to represent residents at Marsden Road.