Having just celebrated 17 years in the same house, Sue and Ernie Clark are now the longest standing residents of their row of DAMHA properties in Birtley.
And Sue’s family connection goes back even further than that – her grandfather’s sister used to live in the same house in the fifties.
“I have a memory of visiting the home when I was very young, but my older sister Pat used to work nearby and often called in for her dinner,” says Sue.
The couple first met at Kibblesworth Working Men’s Club when Sue was just a teenager. They married in 1968 and have four children and two grandchildren. Ernie spent his working life as a coal miner whilst Sue worked in the weaving industry, helping to design patterns for material used on furniture.
They moved into their DAMHA home when Ernie retired from Wearmouth pit and have stayed ever since with Sue becoming a Residents’ Representative for ten local homes. The homes were built in the thirties and documents about their history including details of renovation and photographs can be found in the local reading room.
Sue says she took the role of Residents’ Representative because she likes to help people.
“It’s a nice quite street. We aren’t on top of each other, we say hello at the garden gate and look out for each other,” she says. “I can go to the Association with any issue that residents might have, and I have found they are pretty good at resolving any problems.”
The Clark’s hope the easing of lockdown will allow them once again to get out and about, visiting local markets and car boot sales where they are always on the lookout to add to their collection of salt and pepper pots. Favourites include a pair of very small ones shaped like two peas in a pod, and another pair in the shape of tiny elephants
“It’s just something we’ve done for years, and we have all sorts of different pots now,” says Sue.