Thursday, 25 December 2014

"Just men - and Christmas Day" - Remembering 1914

In Flanders on the Christmas morn
The trenched foemen lay,
the German and the Briton born,
And it was Christmas Day.

The red sun rose on fields accurst,
The gray fog fled away;
But neither cared to fire the first,
For it was Christmas Day!

They called from each to each across
The hideous disarray,
For terrible has been their loss:
"Oh, this is Christmas Day!"

Their rifles all they set aside,
One impulse to obey;
'Twas just the men on either side,
Just men — and Christmas Day.

They dug the graves for all their dead
And over them did pray:
And Englishmen and Germans said:
"How strange a Christmas Day!"

Between the trenches then they met,
Shook hands, and e'en did play
At games on which their hearts were set
On happy Christmas Day.

Not all the emperors and kings,
Financiers and they
Who rule us could prevent these things —
For it was Christmas Day.

Oh ye who read this truthful rime
From Flanders, kneel and say:
God speed the time when every day
Shall be as Christmas Day.

"On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with 'A Merry Christmas' on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. Platoons would sometimes go out for twenty-four hours' rest - it was a day at least out of the trench and relieved the monotony a bit - and my platoon had gone out in this way the night before, but a few of us stayed behind to see what would happen. Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our two men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench.

Buffalo Bill [the Company Commander] rushed into the trench and endeavoured to prevent it, but he was too late: the whole of the Company were now out, and so were the Germans. He had to accept the situation, so soon he and the other company officers climbed out too. We and the Germans met in the middle of no-man's-land. Their officers was also now out. Our officers exchanged greetings with them. One of the German officers said that he wished he had a camera to take a snapshot, but they were not allowed to carry cameras. Neither were our officers.

We mucked in all day with one another. They were Saxons and some of them could speak English. By the look of them their trenches were in as bad a state as our own. One of their men, speaking in English, mentioned that he had worked in Brighton for some years and that he was fed up to the neck with this damned war and would be glad when it was all over. We told him that he wasn't the only one that was fed up with it. We did not allow them in our trench and they did not allow us in theirs.

The German Company-Commander asked Buffalo Bill if he would accept a couple of barrels of beer and assured him that they would not make his men drunk. They had plenty of it in the brewery. He accepted the offer with thanks and a couple of their men rolled the barrels over and we took them into our trench. The German officer sent one of his men back to the trench, who appeared shortly after carrying a tray with bottles and glasses on it. Officers of both sides clinked glasses and drunk one another's health. Buffalo Bill had presented them with a plum pudding just before. The officers came to an understanding that the unofficial truce would end at midnight. At dusk we went back to our respective trenches....The two barrels of beer were drunk, and the German officer was right: if it was possible for a man to have drunk the two barrels himself he would have bursted before he had got drunk. French beer was rotten stuff.

Just before midnight we all made it up not to commence firing before they did. At night there was always plenty of firing by both sides if there were no working parties or patrols out. Mr Richardson, a young officer who had just joined the Battalion and was now a platoon officer in my company wrote a poem during the night about the Briton and the Bosche meeting in no-man's-land on Christmas Day, which he read out to us. A few days later it was published in The Times or Morning Post, I believe.

During the whole of Boxing Day [the day after Christmas] we never fired a shot, and they the same, each side seemed to be waiting for the other to set the ball a-rolling. One of their men shouted across in English and inquired how we had enjoyed the beer. We shouted back and told him it was very weak but that we were very grateful for it. We were conversing off and on during the whole of the day.

We were relieved that evening at dusk by a battalion of another brigade. We were mighty surprised as we had heard no whisper of any relief during the day. We told the men who relieved us how we had spent the last couple of days with the enemy, and they told us that by what they had been told the whole of the British troops in the line, with one or two exceptions, had mucked in with the enemy. They had only been out of action themselves forty-eight hours after being twenty-eight days in the front-line trenches. They also told us that the French people had heard how we had spent Christmas Day and were saying all manner of nasty things about the British Army."

Frank Richards, British soldier "Christmas Truce".

Friday, 19 December 2014

What did FRED do in 2014 and what's next?

By Coastal View and Moor News

Over the past 12 months FRED have run a competition in Redcar's primary schools to determine "Who is FRED?" in order to create a mascot for this growing and well respected community group. But over the months FRED have proven to be more than the beach litter pick group we all thought it was. Probing the question "What is FRED"?

We asked Carl Quartermain, FRED Chairman to explain.

 "When I first thought about FRED with Natalie King in July 2013 there was a number of driving factors. Initially it kicked off because I personally wanted to call Balfour Beatty, the contractor of the sea defences, to task over the two unauthorised landfills they left on our beach. I was livid that this was how little they respected our residents. This anger developed into why Redcar fails as a seaside resort, why we lack overnight holiday visitors and why business in the town was disappearing long before Marks and Spencers called it a day.

"The idea to start up a media campaign grew also because of our concerns over the Redcar Regent Cinema, having not received any redevelopment while 30 million pounds was ploughed into the sea walls and infrastructure. It seemed at the time that it's neglect was part of a planned strategy for its imminent demise, particularly when there was the whisper of a multiplex development happening.  We were both determined to ensure the safety of the building and to protect this part of Redcar's heritage before even more of it disappeared.

"We'd discussed how badly the retail sector in Redcar was doing and the reasons why, Kirkleatham stables and walled garden and then there was Locke Park also being so neglected, that the council had at that time requested volunteers to develop a 'friends' group. Once we understood our potential to be multifaceted we called a meeting in the RNLI Zetland lifeboat museum and Friends of Redcar was born.

"I must admit I had never before been involved with much community work, never had any dealings with gazebos and to my shame had never heard of the numerous community groups in Redcar or knew of the wonderful work being done by volunteers and not the council. So part of our early intention was to become a resource for other groups and being a digital marketer I was keen to offer online advertising and promotion to give these groups a louder voice.

"We had a rocky start. The ideas were good and well intended but far too ambitious, so our focus has to focus on the beach campaign and to clear the beach of rubble. If tourism was going to come to Redcar it would start there. Even our Treasurer kept calling us 'Friends of Redcar Beach' and there was a push within the committee to rename us as such - which I resisted."

Both Natalie and Carl received Coastal View Community Awards in 2014. Natalie had peeled away from Friends of Redcar and went on to create the "Save the Regent" campaign which saw the Regent receive funding and a much needed facelift along with a trust committee to look after the longer term view.

After ten months of campaigning and rubble collections, FRED managed to get acceptance from the Environment Agency and they, together with Balfour Beatty and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, brought teams of workers, JCBs and trucks to clear up the beach. FRED to date have cleared up over 100 tonnes of masonry from their sessions and the EA have promised to come back in February 2015.

So where did FRED come from and what have you been up to? 

"FRED was an endearing acronym of Friends of Redcar, created during one of our group meetings by one of our regular volunteers, Jean Fines. She said it and it stuck immediately. She also came up with the name of our effort to hold a joint community group event and donkey derby in June. 'Friends Together' events will continue to be part of our intended direction.

"What many people don't realise about us is the amount of letter writing we do. Personally I get as much pleasure from resolving issues this way as I do from organising the litter picks. Behind the scenes we are involved on all six wards. We have successfully challenged many issues both structural and strategical. One of our most used document is the council's complaint form. I've even complained about the complaint form because you can't add pictures! (Which I'm assured is set to change - will have to chase it up!)

"We were the architects to getting the awful compound pulled down, that had stood for four years, at Wykeham Close just a week after we complained. We've had some success at the old cliffe garage site, which has been there for 8 years and became a tipping ground for mattresses and the like. We had overgrown neglected fields and derelict sites cut down. We had a children's play park made safe. And we even got the 'O' put back up at Tesco. On top of that we are working to standardise and promote council ward meetings so more residents are able to participate and we have inspired other groups to form such as Zetland Pride and Friends of Dormanstown. We also have involvement in the newly formed Friends of Kirkleatham grounds and Museum which is the jewel in Redcar's crown in my eyes."

"We also assisted stewarding with the British Landsailing event and hope to again in July 2015. But I'm mostly so proud of our litter picks. It really moves me that from a humble beginning we are now encouraging between 30 and 40 residents every time. And some have come from as far away as Sunderland. Others come along regularly every month. We've had mothers with babies, toddlers, businesses, families and pensioners all litter picking together and getting to know each other. It truly is fabulous. We have seen well beyond 200 volunteers on that beach.

So who is FRED and what is the future?

"FRED the mascot will be a seahorse. The winner from 200 entries was Aleesha Cox of Coatham
school and chosen by our 4000 strong social media following. The mascot will be designed and created for May 2015 when we're hosting our first major event on the seafront called FREDs 'Kick Off the Summer'. Wish us luck with that and we still hope to unveil a mural on the back of the cinema too. We have ideas and are working hard to deliver them.

"As I say we have the EA coming back in February and we'll continue to do monthly litter picks on the beach every first Sunday of each month at 10am alternatively from the Touchstone sculpture in Zetland and TunedIn in Coatham. We have ongoing complaints to pursue that include the Health and Safety Executive and Network Rail.

"FRED the committee are 15 activist, doers and thinkers. I've told them that it is no coincidence that they are together because they are some of the most active people in Redcar. It's a diverse bunch of experienced and positive people who are educators, planners, negotiators, diplomats, crusaders, conservationist, organisers, environmentalist, distributors, fund raisers and writers. I'm so proud of these guys and I think we're really going to come into our own in 2015.

 "I think you've really got to ask why? Why do any of these volunteers, FRED or otherwise do it? I think it's because we just want 'better' for our town. We've seen the potential Redcar has as a seaside tourism destination and we can see where it fails and where poor standards dog us. The various groups are doing wonders to look after our parks, cemetery, woodland and floral displays. We make sure our beach gets attention but it needs much more love from those with influence.

"The biggest asset in Redcar, in the whole Tees Valley, is our 10 miles of coastline from the Gare to Saltburn so we need to clean it up and invite people in. We need to raise our standards in Redcar. There are areas that have been derelict or sealed off from public use for coming on to ten years. There is much that can be done with retailers communicating and our highways need unblocking, redirecting and redeveloping. When we do this our town will pick up trade, our events will be better supported and we will become a festival town creating jobs in areas such as the service and hospitality sector, retail and construction.  FRED will be probing away positively but tenaciously behind the scenes and hopefully lifting this town to be vibrant, popular and just that, 'better' "

If you would like to be involved in FREDs litter picks contact
You can also follow FRED on fb /friendsofredcar and /fredredcar
And on twitter @friendsofredcar
Visit their website at

Monday, 15 December 2014



FRED is promoting a new event for the 23rd and 24th May to rediscover Redcar as a seaside town. In
essence we are organising sandcastle competitions. 

We are very excited to be introducing sand sculpturing wizardry from the best in the UK. The World Class:

  Sand Sculptures UK

Sand Sculpturing UK are the group behind the famous Weston Super Mare Events which they have put on for the past ten years attracting over 100,000 visitors in 2014. 

They will be holding workshops over the weekend too!

Go to to check out more of their fantastic artwork.

FRED will also be holding sandcastle competitions over the two days with prizes with categories. We need stewards and volunteers to oversee the sandcastle competitions and to assist with sandsculpturing. Want to be involved? Contact us. Write to:

Get your free ticket here:

At TunedIn there will be an Open Mic event on Friday evening, dance performances on Saturday and a Churches Together event for Pentecost on the Sunday singing some of the most popular hymns. More on this to come but for more details please contact them at

There will also be a tombola with fabulous prizes to be won and a stall selling buckets and spades etc.

We are encouraging good healthy food...

...but no beach event is complete without these too!

So come and join us and 
Grab a free ticket at:

For more information contact us:

We're also on Twitter @friendsofredcar 

Many Many Many people said we wouldn't be able to do this - 

But we did! So this Summer come and celebrate our beach in Redcar with us. Be FRED 

FRED want to embrace everything that is local and encourage all groups and businesses to make themselves available to promote who they are and what they do in order to "Kick off the Summer" in Redcar.*

We encourage, sports groups, dance classes, musical and entertainment performers, community groups, schools, residents, local businesses and volunteers in and around Redcar to come and do their own thing alongside our event.* 

Showcase who you are as we are happy for you to have fun and run alongside us.

*Let FRED know if you need help with a risk assessment for any organised activities on the beach. Your activity might be subject to public liability and if you are trading you will need licencing. Write to:

Today is about our community. Redcar can be that festival town. It's a seaside destination with  much untapped potential and is the unpolished jewel in the crown of the Tees Valley.

This is our opportunity to change the fortunes in Redcar and we will grow with the support from funders, neighbourly businesses, local industry and you, because you are FRED

Contact us:

We're also on Twitter @friendsofredcar 

Friday, 28 November 2014

Who is FRED? You decided. And the winner is...

The "Who is FRED?" school art competition to determine a life size mascot for the Friends of Redcar (FRED) is over.  

We thank our 200+ entrants from Coatham and St. Benedict's schools for their fabulous artwork. FRED short listed entries down to the final five and left the decision to our social media friends. - ( See more at:

And you have decided.

We had hoped to have the mascot ready for Christmas but as this seems unlikely now we shall reveal the costume in May when we plan our beach sand competition and the "Kick off the Summer" event.

And now for that all important decision. So in reverse order -

5th place Ryan Miland St. Benedicts

4th place Caitlin (?) Coatham Primary

3rd place Leon Dodgson St. Benedicts

2nd place Tye Addison Coatham Primary


Congratulations to Aleesha. We shall be visiting soon with your prize and prizes for all our runners up and the participating schools. More on this soon.

We are very happy for the seahorse to be our mascot because it positively promotes our home "Redcar" and is unique to our town. 

Thank you to all who participated and voted and watch out for FRED coming to a beach near you!

Breakdown of the vote

Thursday, 20 November 2014

FREDs Boxing Day Dip Challenge


We did it!

FRED, Zetland Pride, Redcar Blog and Anna Turley set out to raise £1000 for Redcar Area Foodbank by taking part in December's Boxing Day dip and on 10th February 2015 issued manager Ruth Fox a cheque for £1214

Through the initiative of Neil Baldwin of Zetland Pride the volunteers set out to help local people struggling to provide for themselves and their families last Christmas. The amount was achieved with the help of Coatham School who raised money for the foodbank through their "Wear a Christmas Jumper To School" day.

Carl Quartermain Chairman of FRED would like to thank all those who contributed donations to the effort and to the dippers:

Neil Baldwin, Olwyn Paschalis Young, Alec Brown, Anna Turley, Ja Reed , Leah Quartermain, Vicky Rae, Mark Skidmore, Carl Quartermain, David Wimble and Vanessa Quartermain who was supporting MIND and Clare Robson (Care4cats)

FRED are always active and working hard to create 'better' for Redcar. We are physically working on creating a better environment to improve attractiveness, strengthen the local economy and increase the quality of life of our community. Join our 200+ members. Contact us here or email or call 07966985444

There was around 300 dippers in Redcar and it was COLD COLD COLD but we are warmed in the knowledge that many families will benefit in these harsh times.

More pictures of the day here

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Wish Tokens for FRED

Dear Friends,

Do you get the Gazette? Do you know people who do?

We have received some very kind and heart-warming donations for Wish Tokens and are looking for more.
If you're not already collecting for a group and can you help our efforts to the benefits of Redcar please send us your Wish Tokens? You can send or drop in the tokens to the following addresses;
27, Yew Tree Avenue Redcar TS10 4QD
Suite 203, The Innovation Centre, Vienna Court, Kirkleatham Business Park, Redcar TS10 5SH
or drop off them off at -
Roseberry Square Library,
Roseberry Square ASDA
Anna Turley's office at 10 Milbank Terrace Redcar
Collect them for us and we'll pick them up when the scheme ends
Finally if you have a business and can create a collection point for us we'll be very grateful.

Thank you for all your support.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Friends of Redcar BEACH ACTION GROUP Nov 2nd

A beautiful morning in November saw FRED meet with 35 Friends of Redcar taking great care of the beach we all love. 

This morning we collected 60+ bags with support from residents, visitors, SURFERS AGAINST SEWAGE and local business SEABREEZE fish and chip shop from Coatham.

These great volunteers who range from all ages and from all walks of life, all have one thing in common: To rid Redcar of the scurge of litter and rubbish that finds it's way to the beach so that more families can enjoy the fabulous beach we have.

FRED has just had a great boost of £3000 from the Philanthropic Society and £1,150 from Community First. We would like to say a big thank you to them both. This funding will go towards our bid to host a sandcastle competition in May next year. 

So in that case we'll need to keep our beach clean and safe for the kids to enjoy next year and so more community events can take place.


This is just some of the 50 metres of rope, string and fishing lines we found on the beach this morning. Other notable objects where cotton buds, glass and plastic bags.

Cheers everyone. Once again you were fantastic.