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“I could’ve been killed!”



Tyne and Wear FRS

In the build up to Bonfire Night – as the darker nights draw in – a firefighter who was nearly killed when a scaffolding pole smashed the window of his fire appliance reflects on the horrific incident and pleads with troublemakers not to attack emergency service crews.


In the early hours of August 31 [2019] a crew from Byker Community Fire Station were attending a road traffic collision in Walker.


It had been reported that the vehicle had flipped on to its roof – and the occupants were still trapped inside.


The Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service appliance had its blue lights and sirens in full operation when a cowardly act took place.


Watch Manager Graeme MacDonald was in the cab when somebody viciously threw a twelve-inch scaffolding bar at the windscreen.


“I could’ve been killed or seriously injured,” said WM MacDonald.


This incident is being highlighted at one of the busiest times of the year for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) in the run up to Bonfire Night – where incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB) and attacks on firefighters are rife.


This was recently reinforced as TWFRS disclosed that since the start of 2021 there have been 50 ASB attacks on firefighters in the area.


WM MacDonald, said: “Think about what you are doing before you act: at the end of the day, I want to go home and see my family. I’m married with children and I want to safely return to my wife, son and daughter.


“I also want to make sure that my crew are safe as well. It’s not a game. It’s not fun. Incidents of anti-social behaviour create significant implications and what those individuals are doing has a real effect on people’s professional and family lives.


“Not only do their actions have consequences but it also means that the fire engine isn’t available to attend other incidents. It also has cost implications for the public.


“The incident I was involved in has stayed with me, and I wouldn’t want any other crews up and down the country to experience the same ordeal.”



WM MacDonald, aged 36, is North East born and bred.  Graeme, who lives in North Tyneside, comes from a long line of proud and passionate firefighters. He followed in the footsteps of his father who also served in Tyne and Wear.  The family connections don’t stop there as Graeme’s grandfather was in the Auxiliary Fire Service, and his uncle served as a firefighter in the south of England.


Graeme has been with Tyne and Wear FRS for over eleven-years and has served at five community fire stations including Byker, Newcastle Central, Low Fell, Sunderland Central and Wallsend.


He continues: “The incident made me feel like I wasn’t valued by the local community and I know that isn’t true. But it made me think if they could attack us in this way, then who else could?


“Firefighters are here to help the local community and that’s what this job is all about at the end of the day.  Whether individuals make the wrong decision in the heat of the moment that’s not for me to argue.  It’s for me to turn up for work and do my job to the best of my ability.”


Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Peter Heath of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said:


“Any attacks on firefighters and other emergency services colleagues on Bonfire Night or any other night of the year is unacceptable. We aren’t just talking about a person risking their life day in, day out. We are talking about a real person – someone’s loved one – who wants to serve their community and return home safely after work.


“Firefighters, like all other emergency workers should be treated with respect and dignity, in the manner they deserve.  These acts of violence against our crews won’t be tolerated and the individuals responsible for these actions will be brought to justice with help from our partners.  Please be careful this Bonfire Night and recognise the work and commitment the emergency services make to keep you all safe from harm.”


Graeme MacDonald, concludes by giving some advice ahead of Bonfire Night. He said: “My advice would be to stay safe. Go to an organised event and don’t engage in any anti-social behaviour – particularly attacks against the Fire Service and other emergency service personnel as you never know when you might need our help.”


If you have any important information about deliberate fires being ignited in your local community – you can report the details anonymously by calling Firestoppers on 0800 169 5558 or by reporting it through their website


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Saudi Arabia wants its investors to own Manchester United



North East Updates - Breaking News

Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News – with the sovereign wealth fund already owning Newcastle and now funding a breakaway golf series.


Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News – with the sovereign wealth fund already owning Newcastle and now funding a breakaway golf series.


It follows the Manchester United board announcing that they are open to a sale of the club.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisalstated he would be keen on Ronaldo signing for a Saudi Pro League after the World Cup, with the 37-year-old a free agent following a controversial interview and exit to Manchester United earlier this week..


“Who wouldn’t want him to play in their league?” “He’s a role model to a lot of young players – him and Messi.”


Sky news are reporting – It is the availability of United – after the Glazers announced plans for a potential sale – and Ronaldo that is interesting Prince Abdulaziz.


What are your thoughts on this – join the conversation on our Facebook page.


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Sunday for Sammy Concert Cancelled For 2023 Due To Cost of Living



A popular charity concert will not be held in 2023 due to the cost of living crisis.

Sunday for Sammy, which is held in memory of North East actor Sammy Johnson, is a biennial event aimed at benefitting young performers.

The long-running event has featured the likes of Joe McElderry, Johnny Vegas, Brenda Blethyn, Denise Welch, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and Mark Knopfler, Jill Halfpenny and Ant and Dec.

Tim Healy, who hosts Sunday for Sammy, said: “We’ve had lots of enquiries over the recent months asking when the next Sunday for Sammy will take place.

“We are very much aware at the moment that people are struggling with day-to-day living costs and are watching their pennies. Everything is becoming more and more expensive and that includes the cost of putting on a show the size of ours.”

He added: “We can’t in good conscious put on a show that we aren’t sure people can afford to be tickets for. It would be wrong to risk your money you have generously given us.

“So sadly we have decided that there won’t be a show in 2023. We’re going to wait until the time is right.”

Often dubbed The Geordie Command Performance, the shows, which have been running for more than 20 years, are held in memory of Geordie actor Sammy Johnson, who died in 1999.

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STACK Newcastle Bosses Scrap Plans For Christmas Pop-Up Venue



The owners of STACK have confirmed that there won’t be a pop-up version in Newcastle this Christmas, as plans have been shelved.

At the end of September it was reported that STACK’s owner, Danieli Group, were hoping to bring the brand back to the heart of Newcastle after its Pilgrim Street site was demolished earlier this year, after becoming a firm favourite with locals and visitors since 2018. The pop-up, close to the Crowne Plaza hotel in the Stephenson Quarter, looked set to be a massive draw before STACK makes its permanent return to the city next year, was planned to feature a number of shipping container bars, a new take on its famous Hadrian’s Tipi, street food vans, a stage and large screen, all on one level.

But, it has now been announced that the proposed STACK festive pop-up won’t be happening anymore. Confirming the decision, Neill Winch, CEO of Danieli Group said that while it was sad news that the pop-up would no longer take place, it meant the company can forge ahead with the Worswick Chambers plan.

He commented: “We know how much people miss not having a STACK in Newcastle so we are concentrating our efforts on creating what will become a flagship site back where STACK first began,” he said.

“Work is well underway on the scheme with a view to being open in winter 2023.”

In recent weeks it has announced new developments in Lincoln, Durham, Bishop Auckland and Carlisle.

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