10 Inspirational people from my little part of the world

When we discuss powerful self-talk, it’s sometimes hard to appreciate the value of having a positive attitude towards yourself without seeing some examples. I wanted to include some inspirational people that have made history from my area in the North East of England.

Do you think Shearer was concerned with what people thought about him when he was scoring winning goals? Or do you think Alison Kay thought she was too old to make a difference? The suffragettes had a defiant attitude in the face of adversity, as did Catherine Cookson. All these people show the power of believing in yourself.

Emily Wilding Davison – Suffragette

“Deeds not Words.” That was the motto of the Women’s Social and Political Union and the rousing rhetoric suffragette Emily Wilding Davison left behind on her grave in Morpeth, Northumberland.

She was motivated by the prospect of political change in Britain. She vigorously campaigned for women’s votes, so much so that she was imprisoned eight times. Although her suffrage had a tragic end when she stepped in front of the Kings horse in 1913, there was no denying she was one determined woman.

Catherine Cookson – Author

Having only recently discovered Catherine Cookson’s heroic struggle to become the famous author she is today, I think it is only fitting that she is included on my list, especially because she battled depression for many years.

Cookson went from being the illegitimate daughter of an alcoholic mother who was raised by her grandparents in South Shields; to a bestselling British author with over 100 million sales.

She ran a laundry house and saved up every penny she made to buy a Victorian home that she rented to lodgers for extra cash.

Cookson married Headteacher Tom Cookson, and then suffered four miscarriages which saw her experience an overwhelming depression. She used writing as a way to relieve her deep sorrow.

Cookson never forgot her roots as she wrote about the poverty which she grew up in. Would Cookson have been a best-selling author had she not experience a battle with her mental health? No-one knows, but it is inspiring to know that it helped her through difficult times and brought joy to so many others.

Sir William Armstrong – ‘Industrial Wizard’

Sir William Armstrong is named by England’s North East site as an ‘Industrial Wizard’. He was an engineer, scientist, inventor and philanthropist. He’s made the list because he, with the help of architect Richard Norman Shaw, built Cragside in Northumberland, which was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. You can visit Cragside house and also the beautiful grounds that surround it. Think quintessentially old English manor house, that is Cragside.  

Alison Kay – People’s Kitchen founder

The People’s Kitchen is a charity in Newcastle that provides ‘friendship and food’ to anybody who needs support. It was founded by then 75-year-old Alison Kay in 1985 who read about the death of a homeless man in the city. After a year in business Alison had managed to recruit 40 volunteers.

Most people in Newcastle know about The People’s Kitchen and the incredible work that they still do to this day. Kay was in her 70’s when she set up this wonderful charity, proving that you’re never too old to make a difference.

Kate Adie OBE – Front-line television reporter

Kate Adie is a perfect example of how you never really know where you’ll end up in life. Adie has said that she never expected to be a television journalist delivering breaking news to people’s living rooms, but she has had career that has spanned over four decades. She has been shot multiple times and has reported from many war zones around the world for the BBC. I won’t list her multiple achievements but she is an immensely successful Sunderland lass.  

Alan Shearer CBE – Footballer and pundit

It’s impossible to mention inspirational people from the North East without including some footballing heroes. Football is part of the fabric of the region, even if you don’t like the sport, it’s usually a part of your family and your friend’s lives.

Shearer is a great footballer. He was born in Gosforth to working-class parents and played for Newcastle United. He’s a Geordie hero. I remember growing up my brother and dad were Shearer mad. My brother always had a number 9 shirt and ran around our house kicking a football shouting “SHEEARERRRRR.” There’s not much more I can personally accurately say other than, check out his goals on YouTube.

Gertrude Bell – Adventurer

A woman in the early 1900’s purpose was to be a wife, mother and perfect housekeeper, however this wasn’t the life for Gertrude Bell. She was an adventurer, a writer, a diplomat and an archeologist, to name but a few of her escapades. She was born in Washington but trekked as far as Mesopotamia and Syria. She along with T. E Lawrence drew the borders for Iraq. She spoke Arabic and several other languages and dealt with many Arab leaders and tribes. She is unofficially crowned by many as the ‘Queen of Iraq.’ If you put yourself in history’s footsteps, you can truly appreciate why she is such an inspirational woman.

Lewis Caroll – Author

Lewis Caroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and it’s sequel Through the Looking Glass was born in Cheshire but raised in Darlington. He’s on the list for exciting the imagination of many children and adults alike.

Here are two facts you may not have known about Carroll, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He had a stutter, which may have caused him to be bullied in school, but this is unconfirmed. He married his cousin. I’m not stating that this is the reason why he should be admired, I am merely pointing out facts about a men who lived in a different century.

Sir Bobby Robson – Football legend

Sir Bobby Robson has a huge place on this list. He was a footballer and manager. He’s notable in the North East for managing Newcastle United.

Sir Bobby was one of five children born and raised in a two-bedroom house in County Durham. The headteacher of his school’s football team said they weren’t allowed to join a league so he began playing for Langley Park Juniors. This is where his career began.  

He signed a professional contract with Fulham, but he was still made by his father to work as an electrician. He later quit and embarked upon a national and international career. He then went on to become a coach and a manager, establishing himself at Ipswich Town.

In his career he also managed the England team, however Sir Bobby is well know in Newcastle for managing Newcastle United from 1999-2004. He had multiple success as a manager at the club and is still hailed a hero here in the city.

He is also a hero for setting up the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation which is a cancer research charity. He battled with his health for years, in 1992 he defeated bowel cancer, then in 2006 he had a tumor on his brain and lung, which caused multiple other health complications. In 2007 his cancer became terminal. He sadly died in July 2009 after making over a million pounds for his foundation. Today his charity has raised over 12 million pounds.

John Dobson – Architect  

One thing about being from Newcastle is that you’re very proud about where you come from. A great thing about the city is the architecture, this is why architect John Dobson is on the list. He designed Central Station which is a train station. According to Wikipedia he ‘designed more than 50 churches and 100 private houses.’

Hopefully you’re feeling inspired, it just goes to show that even the most successful people didn’t have an easy ride and with a bit of hard work and dedication, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.


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