Sunderland Vibe - Summer 22

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SUNDERLAND The city, coast & beyond... S U MMER 2 0 22




©Disney, ©Disney/Pixar

7th – 11th December 2022

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Summer has arrived and what a few months we have in-store here in Sunderland, especially now that SAFC have been promoted to the EFL Championship! We were there at Wembley, joining in with thousands of other Mackems as we danced in the streets, cheered on the tube and supported Alex Neil’s boys ‘til the end. A truly unforgettable weekend for all in the capital. Passion. Pride. Wearside - Ha’way! And what better way to kickstart a cracking summer than with a brand new edition of Sunderland Vibe?! Inside, you’ll discover a lovely restaurant by the name of Posh Street Food, Si King from The Hairy Bikers reveals all about a new food festival taking place in the city and we take an in-depth look at Lamplight Festival. On top of all this, we’ve got an unmissable interview with Sarah Cracknell - lead singer of Saint Etienne, former SAFC photographer Ian Smith shares with us exclusive tales from his time at Roker Park and we put our hands together for the University of Sunderland as they celebrate 30 years of university status. So read on and get the lowdown on everything happening in our wonderful city this summer.

Matthew Thomas Editor

4 A local masterchef

Culinary delights from Posh Street Food

6 Jubilee celebrations

Your guide to what's on in the city this June

18 Showtime at the Empire

Huge stars and acclaimed shows to enjoy

22 Saint Etienne arrive in SR1

An exclusive chat with the Britpop icons

26 A milestone birthday

Sunderland Uni celebrate 30th anniversary

7 Soul Food and Music Festival With Si King, great grub and music stars

10 School's out for summer Our guide to mega family activities

12 Hit the high street Allies Group Ltd, Enterprise House, Kingsway, Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, NE11 0SR Publisher Christopher March Editorial Matthew Thomas Johnathan Ramsay Advertising Lucy Andrews Design Cover Hover Media All contents copyright ©2022 Allies Group Ltd. All rights reserved. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies, howsoever caused. No liability can be accepted for illustrations, photographs, artwork or advertising materials while in transmission or with the publisher or their agents. All content marked 'profile feature' is paid for advertising. All information is correct at time of going to print, May 2022. ISSN 2633-4518

New stores arrive at the Bridges

14 Game on

Everything you need to know about Sunderland’s National Esport Campus

16 Raising the bar

A game-changing education facility

28 SAFC and me

An exclusive glimpse of our football club like you've never seen before




Posh by name, delicious by nature Armed with very little other than an unbounded passion for cooking, Chef Matei Baran arrived in the UK from Romania in 2009 with the sole aim of making his mark in the culinary world. Fast-forward to 2022 and Matei has featured on BBC One’s MasterChef, won critical acclaim for his private dining experiences and more recently, opened his first brick and mortar restaurant at Stack Seaburn. Matthew Thomas takes a deep dive into the cutting-edge gastronomy concept that’s taking Sunderland’s seaside by storm… With over 25 years of experience in the kitchen, Chef Matei Baran has been using his expertise to create unique and high quality gastronomical dishes for the masses. A hugely accomplished chef, Matei cut his teeth in Romania, watching his father cook hearty dishes in the family kitchen and studying the great Michel Roux Jr. before graduating from culinary school at Newcastle College. Matei then ventured into the culinary world by offering private fine dining experiences and tailored menus at weddings, food festivals and private parties. His events have since become the stuff of legend and are renowned across the North East for sumptuous feasts featuring vibrant produce and contemporary takes on classic dishes. Yet, it’s Matei’s latest venture, PoshStreetFood, that is getting people really excited. Located 30ft away from Sunderland’s award-winning coastline, PoshStreetFood first opened in October 2021 and from the get-go had diners, passers-by and dog walkers’ interests piqued. 4

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Inside, Matei has kitted out his restaurant with a striking mural of Roker Lighthouse and the Sunderland coastline from local artist, Ali Goh. Monochrome flooring provides a subtle juxtaposition to the vibrant walls and the framed hi-res photography of Matei’s menu offers diners a visual representation. PoshStreetFood offers a carefully curated bespoke menu that provides patrons with a tasty morsel of classic European and Middle Eastern cuisine. A great example of this is the slow-cooked short rib kebab with tangy horseradish yoghurt, pickled red cabbage, beef broth, crispy onions and tikka dust - a contemporary take on the traditional British roast.





Whereas those looking to be whisked away to sunnier climates can devour one of Sunderland’s best tasting dishes, the Mediterranean monkfish. Tender, bite-size fish fillets are grilled to perfection with chillies and garlic before a layer of sriracha yoghurt, pickled red cabbage, tikka dust, Bombay mix, crispy onions and a drizzle of chilli oil. A fusion of exquisite flavours and vibrant produce. The most popular dish, by far, is the belly pork kebab. Matei has marinated a succulent cut of meat with Asian spices to provide a sumptuous melt-in-yourmouth meaty moment that’s layered on a bed of fries, fresh salad and generously topped with sesame seeds. Outside of the Masterchef’s culinary bubble, Matei spends a great deal of time

enjoying family life and sharing his gastronomy skills with his son, Armin, who is showing signs of following in his father’s footsteps. Not surprising, given Matei has published Big Chef Mini Chef – Cooking for Kids with Kids; a book stuffed with joy, inspiration and appealing recipes for kids that are guaranteed to have the pages smeared with chocolate and tomato sauce - a sign of success. A big summer awaits PoshStreetFood and Stack Seaburn. Despite opening during the pandemic, Stack Seaburn has become a huge hit with more than 700,000 people visiting in its first year of trade. That number is set to increase in 2022 and for those visiting in the coming weeks, a gastronomic treat of contemporary street food awaits.

From new restaurants, iconic cafes and historic pubs, keep up to date with Wearside's flourishing food scene via the QR code!


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June 2-6 will be a momentous occasion for the country when everyone gets together to commemorate Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne. Sunderland Vibe brings you the lowdown on the amazing festivities planned for the city this summer… A joint initiative between Sunderland BID and Sunderland City Council, The Big Lunch will run throughout the day on 5 June, and will be filled with plenty of family-friendly activities in Mowbray Park from 11am to 4pm. Silver screen magic is in store for those who love a good movie as there’s to be an outdoor cinema screening with a royal theme. Who could resist getting into the jubilee spirit with a bucket of popcorn and movies such as The Queen’s Corgi, Royal Night Out and The King's Speech? For those who need to work off excess energy, a kids sports club will be putting youngsters through their paces throughout the day. And that’s not all. A flavour of the Big Top will be present with the colourful sight of circus performers entertaining the crowds. Mention must also be made of royal-themed workshops including crown making and (the one we all need to know), learning how to faint like a princess… It wouldn’t be a party without music and there should be something for everyone as local buskers and popular band, Back Chat Brass, will be providing the soundtrack for the day.

Celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in Sunderland!

Of course, food is central to any festive occasion and food vendors will be on hand to provide refreshments - or you may choose to bring along your own picnic. Anyone worried about overindulging will also have the opportunity to burn off a few calories with a silent disco-style clubbercise, Zumba and cardio blast sessions suitable for people of all ages. Adding to the English country fete atmosphere will be old fashioned garden games, of the kind you can imagine Her Majesty playing in her youth!

The Platinum Jubilee activities are also being supported by Cultural Spring, Sunderland Culture and Gentoo, who are working together to engage older people and communities in the hope that they will take part in the event. Across the UK, you can expect to find street parties, parades and much, much more on the Bank Holiday weekend devoted to all things Platinum Jubilee. If you are looking for ideas on how to mark this milestone in Sunderland, then you’ve come to the right place, as an exciting programme of events has been launched to bring everyone together in celebration. A fantastic feast is planned as part of The Big Jubilee Lunch, a nationwide initiative to bring communities together. For those in Sunderland looking to revel in the celebrations, then make sure you take a trip over to Mowbray Park; this 19th-century urban green space is going to be transformed into a royally festive wonderland come June 5th. The event will be absolutely free to everyone and will allow elder residents and those who don’t get out much to enjoy the British summer time, join in with all the festivities and make some new friends. FO R M O R E IN FO RMATION, VIS IT S UN D ER L ANDBID.CO.UK



Sunderland Soul Food and Music Festival A celebration of food and drink will be back with a bang this year, not least because Sunderland will be getting two festivals in one! Sunderland Vibe brings you the latest on the brand new city-wide celebration taking place this summer…

10 - 12 June

The city will be enjoying three days of fun and feasting with the all-new Soul Food and Music Festival, which runs from 10-12 June this summer. Souled Out will take place at the former Vaux site and across the festival visitors can enjoy performances from headliners The King Cush Band, Voices of Virtue, Groove Train and Smoove and Turrell. They will also be treated to a range of specialised street food vendors – chosen by Hairy Biker, Si King - including Scream For Pizza, Dosa Kitchen, burger specialists One Dining and Nan Bei, who sell Chinese dumplings, with more operators about to be confirmed. While the Souled Out Festival will be a ticketed event, the Soul Food and Music Festival will offer a smorgasbord of free delights at Keel Square, including family entertainment, local buskers and a street food market featuring incredible edibles from around the world. Fitness enthusiasts are also well catered for, as organisers have ensured that there will be plenty of opportunities to feast on healthy superfoods with food stalls

offering vegan, vegetarian, and organic produce throughout. After all that eating and drinking, you might feel like taking a spot of exercise but do not fear as you’ll be able to get the blood pumping with a range of family-friendly activities. Add into the mix cooking demonstrations, a kids club and a range of walkabout characters, the event looks like a recipe for a brilliant time!



Sunderland Vibe checks in with Si King! LOVERS OF GREAT FOOD AND MUSIC CAN JOIN THE SOULED OUT FESTIVAL SUNDERLAND; A FABULOUS INNER-CITY MUSIC CELEBRATION BROUGHT TO THE CITY BY TOP TV CHEF SI KING, ARGUABLY THE HAIRIER OF THE HAIRY BIKERS! “I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to be involved in the Souled Out Festival Sunderland. “It’s going to be an amazing event where artists, food producers, and amazing musicians will come together and showcase Sunderland’s warmth and hospitality. “It has been my privilege to curate some of the food offerings and music, things that speak to the soul like nothing else. “We’ve brought together an incredible programme which anyone who loves food and music won’t want to miss.”

For more information on street food vendors, musicians and timetables, check out



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Ready, set, get active! Did you know? Whatever your age and no matter how much you do, regular physical activity is good for your body and mind. And this summer there are plenty of opportunities to get us all moving more. From the British Triathlon Grand Final to the Stage Final of the men’s Tour of Britain, there’s a spectacle of athletes running, cycling and swimming right here in our city. And if watching them inspires you to give something new a go, we’ve got a few ideas to help. British Triathlon Grand Final Sunderland’s seafront will host the 2022 British Triathlon Grand Final, on 20 & 21 August, which will see the best of British athletes go head-to-head. Families and the wider community will have the opportunity to take part in a BIG Active Sunderland tri event. Designed especially for those who want to start their triathlon journey, there are two offers on the day – one for families and one for individuals wanting to dip their toes! For more information and details of how to sign up see The city is also earmarked to host the world’s best triathletes during a leg of the prestigious 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series which sees the world’s best travel to iconic cities around the world.

Tour of Britain The end of the third stage of the UK’s most prestigious cycle race, the Tour of Britain, will take place in Sunderland on Tuesday 6 September. Over 100 of the world’s best male riders will compete in the 18th edition of the modern race which is visiting the city this summer for the very first time. TO FIND OUT MORE, VISIT WWW.MYSUNDERLAND.CO.UK/SWIM-BIKE-RUN


You use 200 muscles to take a single step forwards. The average person walks about 7,500 steps per day. If you challenge yourself to do 10,000 steps a day you’ll increase your fitness levels and see the health benefits. Pinched for time? Even 10-minutes of exercise will help raise your heart rate and maintain fitness levels. Exercising helps to sharpen your mind as it increases the production of cells that are responsible for learning and memory. Listening to music while exercising can improve your workout performance - so pop on your favourite tunes!




Healthy Benefits!

Get involved and give it a try! Feeling inspired? Whatever your age or ability, you can get involved…

BIG events! Active Sunderland BIG Walk The Active Sunderland BIG Walk will take place on Sunday 26th June. Those taking part can choose from a 3 mile, 8 mile or 12 mile route which make the most of the beautiful Herrington Country Park and Penshaw Monument as you spot wildlife, sculptures and much more. The 3 mile route will include character led walks, a nature trail and Active Sunderland fun games, perfect for the whole family.

Ideas to move more eveyday Sunderland has a wealth of cycling networks, clubs and groups offering residents a range of activities - all year round - to encourage everyone, of all ages and abilities, to get active - as well as have fun! You don’t have to take on a big challenge (although if you do - good luck!). In fact gentle exercise and activity including walking, swimming or yoga help us all to keep fit and healthy.

Change4Life Sunderland Offers healthy lifestyle sessions for young people (0–18) and their families. SEE WWW.SUNDERLAND.GOV.UK/ CHANGE4LIFESUNDERLAND

Active Sunderland BIG Bike Ride

Step Up Sunderland App

This year’s event is taking place on Sunday 24th July. Cyclists will tackle a route winding through a mixture of woodland, urban and rural terrain with 12, 20 and 40 mile routes to choose from.

Sunderland Cycle Network


Active Sunderland Summer Family Fun sessions will take place in parks and open spaces across the city during the school summer holidays. Families can try out a range of sports and games that will get the whole family active! Follow My Sunderland for more information.

Download the free App to track your steps Over 100km of cycle routes for beginners, as well as long-distance routes, and 80km off-road from the heart of the city centre, out to the suburbs and countryside.

Walking Routes and led Walking Programme Including free nordic walking, nature trails, and heritage and sculpture trails. See for maps and details of led walking programme.

Aqua Bumps Programme Free and a great way to keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. TO FIND OUT MORE VISIT, WW W.SUNDERLAND.GOV.UK/ ACTIVESUNDERLAND


Consistent regular exercise also reduces your risk of major illnesses, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Mood boosting Getting active helps to reduce anxiety, depression, and negative mood and improve your selfesteem.

Enhanced sleep Moderate-to-vigorous exercise helps improve sleep quality as well as the time it takes to fall asleep, reducing the time you spend lying awake in bed.

Positive Energy A daily brisk walk can boost your energy, lift your mood and make everyday activities easier. To get started download the Active 10 app to track your steps or for a bigger challenge try the Couch to 5K app, a free running programme for beginners.



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Fabulous Family Fun! Sunderland Bowl Head down to the Sunderland Bowl for one STRIKE of a family day out! Whether you're a serious bowler or a guttershooting no-hoper just looking for a mega night out with loved ones, it's time to make a date on the lanes! The Sunderland Bowl is truly a one-stop-shop for all things family fun. They’ve got a state-of-the-art arcade, smart darts, shuffleboarding, mini golf, and, of course, epic bowling lanes. With plenty of other fun, food and fantastic deals to be enjoyed during the warmer months, Sunderland Bowl is certain to be right up your alley this summer!

into an exhilarating kayaking or paddle boarding expedition within the marina and around the lighthouse. Let us set the scene, a gentle paddle on the open water, glorious sunshine beaming down and a whole lot of smiling faces as gentle waves lap around you - absolute bliss! An awardwinning experience and a first-class way to see our beautiful coastline, follow the link below and get yourself booked in before it’s too late! SUNMAC.ORG.UK

Karting North East Lights out and away we go! With up to 35 drivers racing at once on an exhilarating 1,200m karting circuit and just a short ride from the city centre, an afternoon burning some rubber at Karting North East is certainly high on our to-do lists this summer. With juniors able to race from the age of 8 with an induction before moving across to join a family session on a winding 850m circuit, KNE have come up trumps when it comes to getting all members of the family in on the action. Did we mention that they also have state-of-the-art floodlights too? One hot lap round here and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re smack bang in the middle of a heated Formula 1 Grand Prix! KARTINGNORTHEAST.COM


Harry’s Game Shack

Adventure Sunderland

Now that the warm weather is finally here (we hope!), you and your clan have no excuse not to take the plunge and hit the water with the aqua-pros at Adventure Sunderland! Jump right into the action at our very own Roker Riviera by booking 10

Still waiting on the summer sunshine? Escape those rainy city days with some super fun gaming action at Harry’s Game Shack! This Fawcett Street gaming citadel is full to the brim with amazing games consoles old and new. Whether you’re looking for a dose of N64 nostalgia or cutting edge PS5 gameplay, Harry’s has something for all of the family. Show your little ones your skill on Street Fighter or go head to head in an intense cup final game of FIFA! With loads of lush scran and refreshing beverages to supplement your gaming session, Harry’s is the ultimate gamer family hang-out. The question is, who is the ultimate gamer in your family? Find out this summer! HARRYSGAMESHACK.COM

Clue HQ Take your little explorers over to John Street for an exhilarating escape room experience with Clue HQ. Your family will be challenged to escape from either Bunker 38, The Dungeon Of Doom, The Vault or Cell Block C! Put your minds and wits to the test with these super fun themed escape rooms that’ll test even the biggest eggheads in your group. With tasty drinks and scrumptious bites to eat on offer too, you’re guaranteed to have a day out you’ll never forget at Clue HQ! CLUEHQ.CO.UK/SUNDERLAND




Lunchtime Recharge! Laser Quest Gear up and get ready to embark on an epic quest of laser tag action! Laser Quest Sunderland will transport you and your family to a futuristic world where you take on other teams, or each other, in a fantastically fun laser battle. Up to 20 players can compete in 20 minute sessions and everyone will be kitted out with a nifty Laser Quest body pack and laser. Each game is played out in a battlezone laser zone, with catwalks, mazes, swirling fog, music and lights. You score points when you zap your opponents but lose points when they zap you! It sounds simple, but does your family have the speed, wit and skill to be Laser Quest champions this summer? Find out with a visit to John Street battlezone! LQSUNDERLAND.CO.UK

Sunderland Roller Rink 22 July - 4 September Roll up, roll up – and have some fantastic fun in Sunderland this summer! The city’s first roller rink will take up residence at Keel Square from 22 July to 4 September, so why not get your skates on and bring all the family? The rink will be open daily from 11am to 8pm and there'll be tonnes of themed events to get involved in. If you weren’t old enough to remember the great roller discos of the 80s then here’s your chance to enjoy an unforgettable experience – and that’s just one of the many special activities that will be on offer. Sessions cost £10 for adults, £8 for five to 17-year-olds and £4 for the under fours – or you can splash out on a family ticket for just £28.

Fausto Coffee


Did somebody say fresh pizzas? Nothing quite beats a good pizza when it comes to a lunchtime recharge meal and the folks over at Fausto have some of the best in town! They’ve also got a mouthwatering selection of homemade cakes and tasty coffee for the adults. Take your family on a trip to Fausto!

Chicken and chips done properly! Take the family to Nando’s for some trademark grilled chicken and their oh-so tasty peri-peri sauces. No matter how fussy your kids are, their lunchtime grumbles will be silenced when they taste the flavour of that succulent chicken. Mmm mmm mmm!




Penshaw Tea Rooms

The Hideout Coffee House

Take a quick drive out of the city centre to enjoy some delicious scran in the sun with a breathtaking view of Penshaw Monument! Penshaw Tea Rooms is the perfect place for a relaxing lunchtime bite in between your summer adventures. Their menu of sweet treats and traditional plates is sure to put a smile on even the fussiest little face. From full English brekkies to homemade fish and chips and everything in between, Penshaw Tea Rooms is a summer lunchtime must!

Rated number one in Sunderland’s tea and coffee shops on Tripadvisor, The Hideout Coffee is a great place to escape for a brew and bite with the whole family! Situated on the lower promenade, right by the sea, this super popular cafe is renowned city wide for its homemade bakes, tasty drinks and beautiful paninis. Amazing views, amazing bites for the kids and an amazing coffee - what more could you ask for?



Our website is packed full of inspiration you need for family-friendly fun in Sunderland. Scan the QR code to see what's new!


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What's new at the Bridges? From comic merch and contemporary cosmetics, here are the new stores opening up in The Bridges this summer!

Uplift Not only are the Bridges home to some of the biggest high street names and fabulous local businesses, but they’re also a key player in bringing insightful service providers to the city centre to help shoppers and passersby achieve their career goals. New for 2022, Uplift is a great tenant that offers quick-fire advice for people looking to get into the digital world of work. So, whether you’re looking for IT user skills, advice on completing online applications or want to take your career up a gear with their Taxi Driving course, Uplift have the tools to help you stand out from the crowd. Get in touch with them for a friendly chat on 07535 002 565 or via email UPLIFTASSOCIATES.CO.UK


Laser Clinic There’s plenty to smile about this summer as a brand new store for Laser Clinic opens its doors right here in the Bridges soon. With over 180 clinics globally and a team consisting of over 1600 trained staff performing over 2.5 million treatments a year, Laser Clinics are the go-to experts when it comes to delivering spectacular results for men and women around the world. Renowned across the UK for their outstanding aesthetic treatments such as laser hair removal, cosmetic injectables and skin treatments, you’ll be beaming after chatting with the super friendly team at Laser Clinic. LASERCLINICS.CO.UK




Be More Geek is here! Head to Be More Geek if you’re keen on flicking through page after page of Marvel hardbacks, DC prints and enjoying a healthy supply of comic merch! Whether your kids are looking to add to their Daredevil collection or just beginning to dip their toes into comic book stores and graphic geekery for the first time, one trip to Be More Geek in the Bridges to wade through their cool comics, games, graphic novels, art and memorabilia will have them coming back time after time for more!

We caught up with James Gee, Managing Director, for a quickfire Q&A

Tell us a little bit about yourself? I'm born and bred in the North East and am very proud of my northern roots. Needless to say, I'm a huge football fan but I'm also a film fanatic and I love my business and what we do. How did Be More Geek come to fruition? Be More Geek actually started when I worked at Grainger Games. I was in charge of bringing in new business at the time and came up with the idea of having a section for collectables and pop culture merchandise in each of the stores. When Grainger Games came to an end, I set up Be More Geek as its own business and we opened our first store in October 2018. The whole idea behind the business is inclusivity and letting out your inner geek. Being a bit of a geek myself, I love the business and what it stands for.

Your expansion across the North East shows no sign of slowing down. What was the attraction of opening a store at the Bridges? Yeah, it's been a busy few months, to say the least! I've always known the Bridges and was keen to explore the option of opening a Be More Geek store there. It's a really fantastic shopping centre and given the proximity to our other stores, it made complete sense logistically to try and open there. The Centre Management team were very accommodating through the whole process and have been it since we opened. How are you settling in? We're loving it! We've got a fantastic new team of staff in the store who love the brand and the products and have started building up relationships with our new customers. The shopping centre benefits from great footfall and I think a lot of our customers like the attraction of our products and of course our Star Wars themed mural. We're very excited to see what the Summer holidays bring and have some exciting events planned for later in the year. How is Be More Geek different from other comic stores? Aesthetically, we aim to deliver a vibrant and engaging set-up in each of our stores. Our purpose-designed murals are always a point of difference and our world-famous wall of POP! vinyl has become a key

feature in each of our stores. We aim to deliver fantastic customer service in an environment where geeks (or anyone who wants to Be More Geek) can feel comfortable, relaxed and enjoy the experience. Your advice to other independents looking to open a brick and mortar store on the high street? Don't be afraid to experiment, especially in the early days. Try a big range of different products in smaller batches so you can find what really works for your customers and demographic. There are tons of incredible products and suppliers out there to try, some will work and some won't but perseverance will get you there. Above all else, make sure your customers are your number one priority and try to relax from time to time even though it can be tough!


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Game on: Everything you need to know about Sunderland’s National Esport Campus

Esports is one of the world’s fastest growing activities and Sunderland will play a key role in helping it become a multi-billion-pound industry in the UK, as WHO reports.

Last month’s announcement that British Esports (BE) – the national body for esports - is set to open a National Esports Performance Campus in Sunderland made headlines across the UK. But to the average reader, little is known about esports and the huge economic, educational and cultural impact it has had in recent years. So, as Sunderland gets set to welcome the UK’s first National Performance Campus, we made it our mission to catch up with the industry body powering the centre and those already putting the North East on the map as an esports centre of excellence… What is esports? An abbreviation of electronic sports, British Esports defines esports as ‘organised 14

competitive video gaming’ and always human v human. There are over 40 different esports from different video game categories, MOBA (mobile online battle arena), Battle Royale, sports and simulation, fighting, first person shooter, strategy and more. The most popular esports titles include: Lead of Legends, Dota2, Rocket League and Overwatch. Competitions and competitive matches are often played in front of large live audiences with competitors battling it out to win trophies and cash prizes, which in some instances can amount to millions of pounds. Already a phenomenon in several territories across the globe, with one in three people globally playing video games and over half a billion fans,

esports is set to explode in popularity in the UK. During the Tokyo Olympics, esports was trialed in the form of virtual sports and simulation video games and we will see the Commonwealth Esports Championships be hosted during the



Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer. Competitions also require huge promotion and oversight, meaning a wide variety of jobs are now available in the industry, from content creation and journalism to event managers, broadcast and production specialists, marketing and web casters, to name just a few. How big of an industry it? According to Ukie, the trade body for the UK games and interactive entertainment industry, the esports sector grew at an annual average rate of 8.5% between 2016 and 2019 and directly supported 1,200 jobs in 2019 alone. The UK industry contributed £111.5 million to UK GDP in 2019 however, a single major esports event can support 238 full-time members of staff and boost the economy by £12 million. What will the National Esport Campus look like? Situated in the shadow of the Stadium of Light, in the former Audi dealership on Stadium Way, the NEPC will become a centre of excellence, providing access to state-of-the-art equipment, training and investment that will support Sunderland, the North East and the UK to become a globally-recognised esports hub capable of attracting and developing the world’s best esports talent. The campus will offer educational and coaching courses for players and all other roles within the esports industry, and feature dedicated esports classrooms, performance rooms, streaming booths for shoutcaster skills and an arena space. It will also play host to regular esports events, community tournaments, summer camps and be used as a training base for the Great Britain esports team.



How will it benefit the city? The move into Sunderland will initially create 20 jobs in the city, however, it is the wider benefits of esports that make this move hugely significant. It is expected that tens of thousands of spectators will visit Sunderland’s NEPC to tap into the world-class facilities that will be available, and that a whole new local ecosystem will be created by the move. BE has leased the property, which will allow it to grow roots in the city, creating an unrivalled esports facility that is expected to attract tens of thousands of people every year. Why Sunderland? Riverside Sunderland has already attracted hundreds of millions of pounds in private and public sector investment and the British Esports is the latest to realise the site’s vast potential. The city’s focus on 5G and digital technology was a major driver in BE’s decision. Sunderland City Council recently signed a 20-year strategic partnership with BAI Communications to design, build and operate digital infrastructure including Wi-Fi, LoRaWan (long-range wide area network) and a private 5G small cell network, which will make the city one of the best connected in the UK and position it as the crucible for the digital industries of the future. What are Sunderland’s links to esports? Two of the city’s anchor educational institutions, the University of Sunderland and Sunderland College, have both invested heavily in esports provision over recent years. Sunderland College is launching its first Level 2 and Level 3 esports courses from September (recruiting now) and is one of only 13 colleges across the country

to deliver Next Gen Skills Academy qualifications. The college’s esports team, Sunderland Seers, is also made up of students who are studying on its Animation, Games Design and VFX programmes through NextGen and are the British Esports Championships’ most successful team, with recent wins in games such as Overwatch, League of Legends and Rocket League. The University of Sunderland is currently looking into the opportunity of creating some cross-faculty bespoke programmes with esports as a key element for both undergraduate and postgraduate study. When will it be open? BE’s National Esports Performance Campus is set to open in the summer, with a full refurbishment and an extension planned to the current 11,000 sq ft space.


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Tailor Made for Sunderland As Riverside Sunderland continues to revolutionise Wearside into a dynamic destination, three major institutions have partnered to create HICSA - a world-class education centre that will place Sunderland people at its core. Sunderland Vibe takes an in-depth look at the facility and its place within the city’s wider regeneration project… HICSA, a ground-breaking £20m education facility is set to become a reality in the coming months after City Leaders recently approved planning permission for a visionary construction space in Sunderland city centre. The cutting-edge training facility will see Sunderland people trained to build and upgrade the city’s homes locally through a phased programme whilst simultaneously enabling the city to become one of the region’s leading hubs for modern construction methods. Furnished with ultra-contemporary equipment and dynamic learning spaces, HICSA will also be a driving force towards reducing carbon emissions, harvesting renewable energy and leading the way to a greener future through the use of sustainable technologies. Driven by Sunderland College, HICSA is an exquisite product of a collaboration

between three of Sunderland’s major institutions; Sunderland College, Sunderland City Council and the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE). The new educational space, which will be located in the Sheepfolds neighbourhood of Riverside Sunderland, has been in the pipeline for some years now and will support the city’s wider regeneration programme. Set to create more economic opportunities for people and businesses by enabling Sunderland to ‘build its own’, HICSA will also support Sunderland City Council’s strategy of creating a carbon-neutral city by 2040 - with local people delivering decarbonisation programmes for the city’s existing homes and neighbourhoods - to ensure the target is met.

“We’re absolutely delighted to receive backing to move forward with our plans for HICSA, which we are so proud to be delivering in partnership with the council and MOBIE. This is about future-proofing our young people – ensuring that they have the skills that will power the economy of tomorrow and we’re thrilled to be able to advance this important agenda and play a part in building a green future for Sunderland. It’s a hugely positive step for the North East.” Ellen Thinnesen, chief executive of Education Partnership North East.


HICSA WILL PROVIDE UNRIVALLED OPPORTUNITIES AND IMMERSIVE EDUCATION FOR LOCAL PEOPLE LOOKING TO PROGRESS IN CONSTRUCTION, WHILST ALLOWING MACKEMS TO CREATE AND DELIVER INNOVATIVE HOMES RIGHT HERE IN THE CITY. HICSA is one of several ambitious projects that are incorporated in the Riverside Sunderland Masterplan, which sets out a development framework for this part of the city, comprising the former Vaux Brewery site, High Street West, Keel Square, Galley’s Gill, Farringdon Row and Sheepfolds. The Sunderland Future Living Expo – an event that will culminate in a Festival in 2023 – is also part of the plan. This citywide celebration will champion progress made, encourage industry and support local people in the delivery of innovative homes on the site, and position Sunderland as a world-class place to live, work and play. For more information on HICSA and to stay up to date with the latest Sunderland developments, visit

WE ARE HIRING We are always looking out for talented people to join our award winning agency. With a growing range of exciting clients, we like to work with the best of the best and in order to do that, we ensure our team contains the best of the best.


If you would like to learn more about this role then please email, visit or call 0191 500 7900 for a chat and to learn more about our exciting opportunities.


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Showtime at Sunderland Empire! From musical spectaculars to comedic heroes and legendary explorers, it’s all happening over at Sunderland Empire in the coming months and you’re invited!

Rob Brydon - A Night of Songs and Laughter 3 July King of the TV panel show and one of the UK’s most loved comedians, Rob Brydon will be taking to the Sunderland Empire stage this July with a brand new show that combines both of his passions - music and comedy! You can expect a hugely entertaining and sometimes brilliantly unexpected selection of tunes from Tom Jones to Tom Waits, as well as Rob’s famed impressions of the likes of Mick Jagger, Michael Caine and Steve Coogan. Rob will also regale audiences with hilarious tales from his distant and recent past, making for a night of pure entertainment that you can’t afford to miss.

That'll Be The Day 18 June Let one of the UK’s most exciting rock ’n‘ roll shows take you on a magical journey through the years, as together you celebrate the golden age of rock ’n’ roll and pop from the fab 50s right the way through to the irresistible 80s. Get set for a night of hilarious comedy sketches and impersonations alongside brilliant vocals and superb musicianship - That’ll Be The Day really is a double whammy of entertainment! It’s no wonder this show has been touring for so many years, wowing audiences around the globe as it just gets better and better.

The Johnny Cash Roadshow 19 June An incredible homage to the one and only Man in Black, The Johnny Cash Roadshow is rolling on through to Sunderland Empire this June for one epic night only. You can expect a brand new updated show this year, taking you through an exciting and emotional journey through Cash's entire career and a fantastic evening's entertainment. This one is a must-see for any music fan, especially those that love Cash’s iconic back catalogue. With standing ovations every night, The Johnny Cash Roadshow is the biggest and best celebration of Johnny Cash in the world today. It's guaranteed to leave you wanting more! 18

MAMMA MIA! 5 - 16 July Here we go again! Dive into the ultimate feel-good factor musical with a trip to Sunderland Empire this July for a performance of the smash-hit MAMMA MIA! Sophie’s quest to discover the father she’s never known brings her mother face to face with three men from her distant romantic past on the eve of a wedding they’ll never forget! Even if you’ve seen this one a thousand times before, you can’t beat that exhilarating feeling!


The Drifters 21 July Forget Saturday night at the movies, this summer enjoy an extra special night at the Empire with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Drifters! These certified music legends are coming to Sunderland for one night only, armed with a setlist that earned them a place on Rolling Stone magazine’s greatest artists of all-time list. You’ll be treated to a night of incredible hits like Saturday Night at the Movies, Come on Over to My Place, Stand By Me, Under the Boardwalk and many, many more sing-along classics. So, drift on down and take in one special night at the Empire.



The Osmonds - A New Musical 13 - 17 September They’re one of music’s most iconic family units, with millions upon millions of records sold. And now you can, for the first time, see a sensational new musical celebrating the illustrious career of The Osmonds! This huge musical tells the official story from Jay Osmond about the five brothers from Utah who were pushed into the spotlight as children and went on to create smash hits decade after decade. Expect to hear chart topping anthems like Love Me For A Reason, Crazy Horses, Let Me In, Puppy Love, One Bad Apple and many more!

Rock of Ages 6 - 10 September You loved the film, now see the hilarious hit musical comedy in person as Rock of Ages touches down at Sunderland Empire in September. The roof will be getting blown off as everyone enjoys over 25 classic rock anthems that’ll be booming through the speakers throughout the night, including Don’t Stop Believin’, We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Wanted Dead or Alive, Here I Go Again, Can’t Fight this Feeling and I Want To Know What Love Is. Get ready to rock out!

Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Living Dangerously 25 September Named by the Guinness Book of Records as The World’s Greatest Living Explorer, settle in as Sir Ranulph Fiennes swings into the Sunderland Empire to share exhilarating stories from his adventures across the globe. A renowned TV explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes has spent his life in pursuit of extreme adventure, risking life and limb in some of the most ambitious expeditions ever undertaken. In his brand-new show, Sir Ranulph is giving audiences a rare insight into his amazing story, describing his perilous trip across Antarctica and the moment he discovered the lost city of Iram in Oman. A perfect night out for the thrill-seekers and adventurelovers out there…


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The War & Treaty 18 June

Sunderland’s Summer of Music

Since forming in 2014, The War & Treaty have amassed a following as eclectic as their sound itself, a bluesy but joyful fusion of Southern soul, gospel, country and rock-and-roll. And now, hitting the road for their first UK tour, the husband and wife duo bring their exhilarating live show to The Fire Station, Sunderland for a truly unforgettable evening of music. THEFIRESTATION.ORG.UK

Let the soundtrack to your summer be live music in Sunderland! The region is bursting with incredible musical events in the coming months, from huge stadium shows and sun-kissed festivals, to intimate gigs featuring cult icons, there’s something for music lovers of all genres this summer… Ed Sheeran 3 - 4 June The time is almost finally upon us, everyone’s favourite chart topping ex-busker is making his way to the Stadium of Light for some of the biggest gigs Sunderland has ever seen. The mighty Ed Sheeran will be taking charge of the stage for 2 back-to-back days at the home of the Black Cats. The ‘+ - = ÷ x Tour’ will see Ed return to stadiums for the first time since his recordbreaking ‘Divide Tour’, which officially

became the most-attended and highestgrossing tour ever by the time of its completion. Belting out brand new tracks such as Shivers and colossal comeback track, Bad Habits, Ed’s Sunderland shows will also feature a new production set-up with staging surrounded by the crowd in each corner of the stadium. Not only is this going to be an historical musical event for the city, it’s going to be a hell of a good time too! Don’t miss your chance to secure the final tickets for these dates! SAFC.COM

Let’s Rock The North East 11 June Who doesn’t love some classic 80s tunes? The groovy gang over at Let’s Rock The North East are bringing another edition of their epic festival back to Herrington Country Park in June! This time they’ve got a whole host of 80s icons on the lineup, ready to get the party started. There’s something for everyone, with the legendary Billy Ocean headlining alongside Wet Wet Wet, Level 42 and 12 other incredible acts. Other highlights on the line-up include ska heroes Bad Manners, Tony Hadley and Musical Youth! This is undoubtedly going to one of the most exciting days on Sunderland’s summer music calendar, providing a healthy mix of nostalgia and good old fashioned fun. LETSROCKTHENORTHEAST.COM





Boundaries Festival 22 17 & 18 June Looking for some new music and art to get your creative spark going this summer? Look no further than Boundaries Festival! Taking place at The Fire Station Auditorium (17 June) and The Peacock (18 June), this exciting new festival now in its second year, aims to champion, support and promote contemporary experimental music and art - inviting curious and adventurous performers from all practices and backgrounds to Sunderland. Expect to have your eyes and ears opened to some amazingly talented artists at the one-of-a-kind celebration of all things creative. T H EF IR E STATIO N.O R G.UK

WIN a special Fire Station competition with Sunderland Vibe! Sunderland Vibe is giving you the chance to WIN A SET OF TICKETS TO A SHOW OF YOUR CHOICE EVERY MONTH at The Fire Station for an ENTIRE YEAR!

Credit David Allen

Elton John 19 June The Stadium of Light is really pulling out all the stops this summer, this time bringing you a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the legend that is Sir Elton John live! Elton will be bringing his awardwinning Farewell Yellow Brick Road: The Final Tour to the Stadium of Light on 19 June 2022! This will be the last time this music icon performs in the region, so you can expect one incredible show with all the glitz and glamour Elton is renowned for. One of the top-selling solo artists of all time, Elton boasts one diamond, 40 platinum/multi-platinum and 23 gold albums! And this critically acclaimed show will take you on a dazzling journey through the very best moments of Elton’s 50-year career. Featuring never-before-seen photos and videos alongside Elton’s legendary catalogue, you can expect to be singing along to iconic tracks like Bennie and the Jets, Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer, I’m Still Standing and so many more! Secure your tickets now! SAFC.COM

Keep up to date with all the huge shows and unmissable gigs by scanning the QR code!

Interested? Of course you are! Here’s all the key details you need… For a chance to win: Like @SunderlandVibe AND @FireStationSun on Facebook Tag the friends you’d take on Sunderland Vibe’s competition post on Facebook Share Sunderland Vibe’s Facebook post Winners will be picked at random! Good luck! Prize draw closes noon 13 June 2022. Terms and conditions: Prize draw closes noon 13th June 2022 on Facebook and winners will be notified via Facebook from Sunderland Vibe. Over 16s permitted. Party of 2 needs to arrive at the venue together for the event. Please be aware that all events will be subject to government guidance in relation to COVID 19 at the time of the event. Individual venues may also impose their own rules which must be adhered to. Please check the venue for more information. The Fire Station operates a Challenge 25 policy during live events and if you are fortunate to look under 25 years of age, please be aware that you could be asked for proof of age if buying alcohol.



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In Conversation: Saint Etienne Renowned for their lush soundscapes and melodic acid house anthems, Saint Etienne are one of Britain’s pioneering music groups that opened the door to the indie-dance movement and the muchloved Britpop genre. Set to finally celebrate their latest studio album and dreamy dancehall anthems in front of an adoring live crowd, Matthew Thomas caught up with frontwoman Sarah Cracknell to chat about their highly-anticipated show at The Fire Station on 10 June. How does it feel to be out and about touring the UK once again? It’s an incredible feeling. We can’t wait to see people again and it’ll be nice to see people enjoying themselves. We wrote and recorded the last album during the pandemic and so it’s been a long time since we saw people’s reactions firsthand. I think I’ll feel overwhelmed with emotion. I’m that way inclined anyway, I always end up shedding a few tears over very little. It’ll be beautiful to see everyone and we’ve heard great things about The Fire Station, so our excitement for the show is building each day… Tell us a little more about I’ve Been Trying To Tell You… We actually began creating a totally different record in a new studio and things came to a grinding halt due to the pandemic. Bob then started playing around with a few ideas and new styles. During lockdown, he had begun experimenting with new software that meant he could trial new time signatures, effects and so on. From there, we developed a concept for the album itself. Pete would send over ideas and I would write lyrics, invent noises and create melodies for his work before sending it back to him for further development. I’m a big fan of the Cocteau Twins and I always loved the fact that Elizabeth Fraser would make up her own noises and lush sounds that make up the Cocteau Twins’ signature sound. I suppose there are elements of their influence in this record. What are your thoughts and feelings when you look back at that period? It was definitely a cathartic experience for me. If it hadn’t been for my younger son who has a studio setup with fancy software and expensive equipment in his bedroom, we wouldn’t have been able to complete the album. I recorded all the vocals in the countryside in Oxfordshire and having that ability to escape through music really helped and provided me with a creative outlet in which I could feel connected to Bob and Pete. 22

How are preparations going for the show? Well, thank you. We’re performing slightly fewer songs from I’ve Been Trying To Tell You and an eclectic mix of familiar tunes, b-sides and more. We’re playing with a previous drummer who is flying all the way from America just to join the tour, and we’ll have loads of visuals by the wonderful Alasdair McLellan who created our nostalgic film. Is there a set method for curating the setlist – not just for these shows but at live performances in general? We just bat ideas between each other until something sticks. I’ll let you in on a trade secret; we write all the songs we’ve rehearsed on a sheet of A4, tear them into strips so the song titles are visible and lay them all on the floor before placing them in a specific order. Once we’ve narrowed down the tracks into something resembling a setlist, we’ll play it in order and one of us will pipe up with further changes. We’ve been doing this process since 1993 and it has seemed to work out pretty well… More recently, Bob played a pivotal role in creating and producing Asunder, an award-winning film about Wearsiders living through the First World War. There seems to be a flourishing connection between Saint Etienne and our city would you say… Definitely. Bob worked alongside Esther Jonhson and we’ve worked with some great Northern initiatives such as Sage and the guys at Field Music. There’s a really nice collaborative cohort of like-minded people developing in the region.




Your show at The Fire Station will be your first back in the region since 2019. How are you feeling about performing at a brand new venue in a relatively new city? We were scheduled to play at The Fire Station on the last tour and we’re so excited to finally perform there. I personally love playing at new venues, it’s great to see new spaces created for the arts and I’ve heard that it’s a lovely venue, really well thought out with a great PA and most importantly, lovely dressing rooms. There’s an appreciation from northern crowds that always makes for a great gig. Every time we’ve played in the North East, we’ve had a fantastic time, some memorable crowd interactions and everyone is just so friendly. 10 June can’t come quickly enough for us!


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A Cultured Summer

From colourful exhibitions to playful performances and fresh family shows, Sunderland Culture has a huge variety of exciting events to explore this summer....

Arts Centre Washington

A Way Home by Christina Castling 9 June A county-wide fight lasting over 25 years becomes a 12-month journey at Bet’s kitchen table as her family grapple with identity, loss and belonging in this tender drama. 1951. A third of County Durham’s villages are classed as ‘D’, no longer worthy of investment, expected to die quietly they refuse to go without a fight. With humour, tenderness and not a small amount of grit, the play speaks of fighting to be heard when no one’s listening and of finding a place to belong. ARTSCENTREWASHINGTON.CO.UK

The Tortoise and the Hare A Suitcase Story 16 August An interactive story for under 6s and their grownups with live music, puppetry and a tale you thought you knew. We travel around with our suitcase of stories, spinning yarns and telling tales. What will come out of the suitcase today? It’s the Tortoise and the Hare! Get ready to hop like a hare and travel like a tortoise. Who will win, slow and steady or fast and furious? Join us for an unexpected dash to the finish line. On your marks, get set…GO! ARTSCENTREWASHINGTON.CO.UK

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens University of Sunderland Art and Design Degree Show 18 June - 29 August Each year, the University of Sunderland’s School of Art and Design holds degree shows for the graduating BA(Hons) students. The degree show is a culmination of the hard work and dedication of their students into the final year of their course, where they build their professional practice, skills and experience. It is also a celebration of their creativity and the beginning of their exciting new journey as creative professionals. The work of design degree students will be shown at Sunderland Museum through the summer. SUNDERLANDMUSEUM.ORG.UK


Hedge 25 June Meet a hedgehog waking up from hibernation…and everything is not as it once was. Playful, fresh and engaging, Hedge is a brand-new show for children aged 4+ and their families. Combining the magic of dance with beautiful costumes, innovative props and puppetry to create an imaginative and atmospheric performance space for audiences to explore and enjoy. ARTSCENTREWASHINGTON.CO.UK

Pyrex100: Joblings 1930s Art Glass Until 27 August Discover a new display of wonderful art glass that Joblings Wear Glass Works made in the 1930s! Originally an experiment by the firm, the limited-edition range was only made for a few years and is now extremely popular with collectors. This unique display is part of a series of Pyrex100 events at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens. SUNDERLANDMUSEUM.ORG.UK

National Glass Centre




Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art

Glass Exchange Until 11 September Bringing together ground-breaking contemporary artists, with some of the most highly skilled glass makers in the country. ‘Glass Exchange’ presents four ambitious new works across the North East, in sites ranging from Durham Cathedral to a disused shop in Sunderland Centre. Over the past 24 months, the four critically acclaimed artists have been working with glass specialists at National Glass Centre to realise their creative ideas. This fascinating process of artistic and technical exchange is documented in a brand-new exhibition at National Glass Centre. Artworks include: • Colonial Ghost by Pascale Marthine Tayou at National Glass Centre • The Life of St. Bede by Monster Chetwynd at Durham Cathedral • Ghost Shop by Ryan Gander at 61 High Street West, Sunderland • The Moment and Requiem by Katie Paterson at Durham Cathedral

Photography: Ian Macdonald, South Gare Teesmouth, 1980, © the artist, courtesy Arts Council Collection.

Island Until 11 September This exhibition brings together a broad selection of artists to explore the notion of ‘Island’ life in Britain since 1945. ‘Island’ explores current coastal issues including environmental change and rising sea levels, unemployment, poverty, inadequate housing and resources, and our difficult relationship between land and sea. These concerns are presented side-by-side with romantic seascapes and documentary photography celebrating the heydays of the British seaside holiday. NORTHERNGALLERYFORCONTEMPORARYART.ORG.UK


The Fire Station Shakespeare’s Globe presents Julius Caesar 26 June Shakespeare’s Globe is coming to Sunderland! Presenting a startlingly relevant new production of epic tragedy Julius Caesar, a brutal tale of ambition, incursion and revolution to life. Conspiracy to kill, cunning rhetoric, a divisive fight for Greatness: Ancient Rome has never felt closer to home. When Cassius and Brutus decide Rome’s leader Caesar poses a political threat to their beloved country, there’s only one solution… THEFIRESTATION.ORG.UK


30 years of transforming lives: celebrating with the University of Sunderland In 1992 Sunderland Polytechnic gained university status and officially became the University of Sunderland. Now plans are underway to mark the 30th anniversary of the life-changing university with a series of celebrations.


It was a year of change. In 1992 there was a fourth-term general election victory for the Conservative Party and Black Wednesday dawned when the UK Government was forced to withdraw the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). The Premier League was formed, R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People dominated the music charts, and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs arrived in cinemas. In the same year, HM The Queen, who herself was experiencing an “annus horribilis”, granted Sunderland city status to mark the 40th anniversary of her accession to the throne. And Sunderland Polytechnic became the University of Sunderland, with Dr Anne Wright, who had been the Rector of the Polytechnic, becoming the first Vice-Chancellor of the University – and one of the very first female V-Cs. Thirty years on, the university is proud to be changing the lives of students – many of whom are from Sunderland and the surrounding area - and to be working with businesses and organisations to play a positive part in supporting the social and economic ambitions of the city. The university welcomes around 23,500 students to its campuses in Sunderland, London and Hong Kong, as well as through global learning partnerships in 15 other countries and online learning. The anniversary celebrations will be taking place throughout September with an opportunity for both past and current staff and students to get involved. The university will also be linking up with the wider community as part of events celebrating 30 years of Sunderland receiving city status.


Sir David Bell became the fourth Vice-Chancellor of the University four years ago. He said: “When I joined in the autumn of 2018, I came with great optimism and hope for the future. Speaking now in 2022, that hasn’t changed but it has been an extraordinary intervening four years. “My arrival coincided with the latter stage of preparations for the opening of the new School of Medicine. The School, which opened in 2019, built upon our increasing activity across all areas of healthcare education which is now seen, rightly, as one of our signature strengths. “Other highlights of my first 18 months here included us forging a new and deepened relationship with our Students’ Union, something that continues to this day. We also saw a resurgence in student numbers – now standing at 23,500 worldwide – and we continued to improve our facilities for students and staff. “All of this was underpinned by a refreshed strategy in which we restated our lifechanging purpose and enhanced it with our ambitions to be student-focused, professions-facing and society-shaping. “Also in 2019, we were delighted to welcome our new Chancellor; multiplatinum award singer/songwriter, and Sunderland-born, Emeli Sandé, whose installation ceremony made national and international headlines.” The University will also be highlighting many of the memories of students who were studying in 1992 when official university status was granted

One of those was Simon Keogh. Simon applied to come to Sunderland when it was still a polytechnic but graduated from it as a university. Now 51-years-old, he is the successful financial director of a company, living in Northumberland with his wife and 15-yearold daughter. Looking back, he remembers his time in Sunderland with great fondness and pride. Simon said: “I was a pupil at St Robert of Newminster sixth form when I applied to what was then the polytechnic. That was in 1989. “I applied to do an HND in Business Studies at the poly but then ended up going on to do my BA in Accountancy and Business. To be honest it was all a great experience, I got to meet so many new people from so many different types of backgrounds. “Sunderland is a unique environment because it is focused towards ‘real life’, it wants you to get a job at the end of the three years, and that was something I really needed. When I graduated in 1993, I went straight into a job as an accountant, which was incredible. I went on to work for a number of companies and am now a finance director. “Back when I applied, there were a lot of changes happening, not just at the university, but in Sunderland in general. The city was changing, the university was building its new St Peter’s campus – there were a lot of big leaps forward. “I now have a teenage daughter and I will be encouraging her to go to university, there’s still a lot of value in it.



Michelle Alderson, nee Oxborough, applied to Sunderland Polytechnic but started her studies at the University of Sunderland in 1992. Now, 48-years-old, the freelance illustrator and business brand designer, recalls with happiness her memories of her time in the city. The mum-of-two, who studied BA Philosophy/Sociology, said: “The polytechnic I applied to became a university in the year I began my course. “Thirty years seems such a large number, but it feels like yesterday too. I loved the city and, more than that, the gorgeous seaside setting. “Walking on the beach was a great way to clear away the cobwebs and wake me up after a night out. My first year accommodation was on Roker Avenue. “I chose Sunderland because it offered module-based degrees - I wanted to study various subjects and I think Sunderland was one of the very first places to offer this. “I loved my time at the university and living in the city. I remember it really fondly. It always felt like a happy, safe place to be studying. “I've been working freelance as an illustrator and brand designer. My company is called Heartfelt Illustrations, where I specialise in custom designs." 27

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SAFC and me From the terraces of Roker Park to modelling Bob Stokoe’s F.A. Cup winning tracksuit, photographer Ian Wright takes Matthew Thomas on his journey with our football club. Ian swings his trench coat over the chair, squeezes my extended right hand with vigour and sits down with wide eyes and a big grin. A notepad emerges from his bag and a page full of scribbles, bullet points and cues lands face-up on the desk. Almost instantaneously, Ian pre warns me that he likes to talk and apologises, which is funny. I could have spent two days listening to Ian, never mind our two-hour chat during a humid April morning at the National Glass Centre. Ian Wright, the son of a working-class family from Fulwell, is an infectious character. An individual with a magnetic force field of positivity who personifies Sunderland’s characteristics; proud, hopeful, wary and ballsy. He photographed our football club during its divine time at Roker Park, he was at the epicentre of Sunderland’s 2018 World Cup host city bid and the Bob Stokoe statue outside the Stadium of Light was based on Ian’s physical similarities with Bob. Yet his journey with SAFC began thanks to a hand-drawn Bruce Lee portrait and his father’s unwavering pride. “It’s funny how I got into photography and publishing. I was told during a meeting with a college career advisor that I needed to focus on finding ‘a real job’, such was the attitude towards arts during the 70s. My inherent passion is drawing and 28

Bruce Lee was my idol growing up. "I sketched a portrait of Bruce from Enter the Dragon, showed my dad and he decided to keep it in his corner shop store in Pallion. Any and all customers would be given a glimpse of my drawing and by happenstance, a staff member from Edward Thompson Printers was in the shop and mentioned to my dad that there were a few vacancies and that I should write in. "It all spiralled from there really. I got the job that summer and began working on matchday programmes and various projects for SAFC. You could say Bruce Lee landed me a job working for SAFC.” So, off Ian went. 16 year old, beaming with pride, heading to the football club every other day and turning up to 3:00pm kick offs with a home shirt peeking out his shirt collar. The life that any football fanatic dreams of. SAFC is a social institution, never mind a professional football club. It’s a melting pot of personalities, opinions and backgrounds. A hub that allows a workingclass community to breathe as one. Something Ian was well aware of when

documenting the club, its players, fans and staff. “My friends would all be in the Fulwell End watching the match and I’m sitting on my stool, snapping and clicking away. It was difficult to switch off from ‘fan-mode’ and it caught me out on a few occasions. My hero was Gary Rowell and he scored against QPR I think. My boss asked me if I captured the moment he scored, of which I assured him I did until he shouted at me saying: “I know you didn’t get the goal because I saw you on Shoot! and you were too bloody busy jumping about celebrating!”.


Guilty and caught on camera as Ian likes to put it. Wide-eyed and grinning from ear to ear myself, I ask if Ian had any other memorable ‘run-ins’ during his early years at Roker Park. "I’ll never ever forget my first match," he tells me. "At half-time, I walked down the tunnel and was looking to escape into the Roker End with my mates to chat about the match. George Baker worked as one of the security there and I asked him for directions to get into the stand. Obviously, I'm still in shock that this is my job now and the adrenaline is high with me being a huge fan. He gave me a bunch of directions that rapidly went in one ear and out the other. "Anyhow, I began walking down the corridor he pointed towards and I burst through a door hoping it was right. Instead, I’ve walked in on Terry Venables’ half-time team talk and he’s giving his Crystal Palace side a right dressing down.

There’s tape all over the floor, Jeff Bourne has his head in his hands and the tension is rife. I nearly got George the sack for that!” One of Ian’s more breathtaking images, and let’s be clear, he has a full room of special photos yet unseen by the world, is undoubtedly his aerial shot of Roker Park from a pylon in the Fulwell End. “Basically, I had the idea of getting a photograph atop the ground from the floodlight pylons. I used to turn up early on a matchday to take sponsors' photos, so thought I could squeeze this in before my actual duties began. "I asked Cathy Kerr if I could climb up one of the pylons in the Fulwell End to get the shot I wanted. There was one condition: 'As long as you’re back down before the fans start coming in.' "This was long before the days of health and safety ever became ‘a thing’. So, off I set climbing the Fulwell End wall. My camera case is strapped around my body as I clutch onto the first rusty rung of the ladder and the adrenaline carried me 150ft to the very top. It’s only here that I realised how perilous this is it was blowing a reet’ gale, the tiny platform creaked and swayed and the stench of the pigeon mess was



spectacularly awful. A terrifying experience, but absolutely worth it to get this unique shot.” Recalling the story behind this particular image guides Ian to detailing another aerial escapade. The club were on the lookout for an aerial shot of Roker Park for a new range of calendars, postcards and posters. It doesn’t take an intellectual to work out that during Ian’s era, drone technology was, probably nothing more than a CAD drawing. Being the spontaneous ‘yes’ man he is, Ian instantly agreed to source the shot without giving it much thought. His solution in the end? A great deal of bravery, three mates, £250 and a small flying school in Teesside. “I hired a small plane from a flying school in Middlesbrough. It was a small, fourseater propeller-powered thing and I was in the passenger seat, with a couple of guys from the studio in the back. "We flew up the coast and when we arrived at Sunderland, the pilot said ‘right, open the window and get cracking!’. "So, there I was kneeling on the passenger seat, leaning out of the window with one hand focussing my lens, the other clicking the winding back and forth. The two lads in the back were holding me by my jacket as the pilot banked the plane and flew around Roker Park three times.” For the remainder of our time, the world is put to rights, discussion filters between SAFC’s chances of promotion into the Championship and the spectacular renovation of a Grade II listed pumphouse in Seaham that Ian and his wife are currently undertaking. 29

SUMME R 2 02 2


Les Misérables 1 - 19 November

The Subways 21 September

From radio stars to world-class bands and iconic names, take a look at the huge events arriving in the city in the coming months…

Since bursting onto the scene way back in 2005, garage indie-rockers, The Subways, have won troves of fans across the globe with their explosive rock ‘n’ roll and wild live performances. Their debut album Young For Eternity rocked the international music charts, whereas their floor-filling single Rock & Roll Queen dominated dancefloors, was used on Hollywood films such as Guy Ritchie’s RockNRolla and elevated the band to esteemed stages such as Glastonbury, Rock Am Ring and Reading & Leeds Festival. Expect a highoctane night at one of the region’s finest community-run venues.

Vive la Revolution! Tickets are already flying out for Les Misérables in November, as the global musical phenomenon arrives in the city for a scintillating run at Sunderland Empire. After nearly a decade since the last sell-out UK tour, Cameron Mackintosh’s critically acclaimed production of Boublil and Schönberg’s classic musical heads to Wearside with glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. Including iconic tracks such as I Dreamed a Dream, Bring Him Home, and Master Of The House, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the most popular musicals around and promises to be one of the hottest events in the city this year… ATGTICKETS.COM/VENUES/ SUNDERLAND-EMPIRE


Fleetwood Mac's Rumours with The Transatlantic Ensemble 24 November

Al Murray, The Pub Landlord – Gig for Victory 1 October As the dust settles and we emerge blinking into the dawn of a new year, the men and women of this great country will need answers. Answers that they know they need, answers to questions they never knew existed. And when that moment comes, who better to show the way, to provide those answers, than the people’s man of the people, the Pub Landlord? Steeped in the deep and ancient barroom wisdom of countless lock ins, the Pub Landlord is there to show the way. Wherever you are, he will – within sensible travel limits and theatre booking policy – come, offering people thirsty for common sense a full pint of the good stuff. THEFIRESTATION.ORG.UK

The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club 30 September Cancel all of your Friday plans… The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club show is coming to Sunderland and it's an absolute must for your September social plans. The BBC 6 Music favourite will be spinning an electric assortment of all things funk and soul, featuring everything from original tracks and Motown crackers through to the soul sounds currently on the airwaves. Make sure you book tickets as the soul train rolls into town…




Yes, it may seem a while off yet, but ​​the supremely talented Transatlantic Ensemble are returning to The Fire Station to blast through Fleetwood Mac’s iconic Rumours album this winter. Tickets are usually gone in a flash for this one, as internationally renowned musicians and groove gods, The Transatlantic Ensemble put on one of the biggest and best events around. Expect a funky rendition of The Chain, a groovy version of Go Your Own Way and a euphoric performance of Don’t Stop from this outstanding bunch. Tickets are on sale now via the link don’t say we didn’t warn you…











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