100 Grestest Geordies

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), August 8, 2012 | Go to article overview

100 Grestest Geordies


Now one of the BBC presenters fronting coverage of the London Olympics, it was not long ago that Edwards was one of Britain's great gold medal hopes. And to add a bit of spice to the mix, his early career when refusing to compete on Sundays had more than a hint of Chariots of Fire.

The bottom line is that Edwards is the finest triple jumper of all time, the first to legally clear 18 metres (twice on the same day) who went on to set a world record of 18m 29cm in 1995 - an astonishing mark that stands to this day.

Although born in Windsor, Edwards has lived and worked here since the 1980s when he studied at Durham University. It was after he graduated and moved to Newcastle that he came to the public's attention. A promising athlete, he was a committed Christian and refused to compete on Sundays, a decision which cost him a chance to compete in the 1991 World Championships.

However, after much deliberation with his father (a vicar), in 1993 he changed his mind which proved timely as the qualifying round at that year's World Championships took place on a Sunday and he went on to win bronze.

His breakthrough year was 1995. He was unbeaten that year and capped it with a historic gold medal performance at the World Championships where on his first jump, he became the first man to legally pass the 18m barrier. He was also voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

In subsequent years he claimed a clutch of medals including Olympic, World Championship and Commonwealth Golds before retiring in 2003 as this country's most decorated athlete.

He has since pursued a career in TV, mainly working for the BBC as a sports commentator and on programmes such as Songs of Praise. However in 2007 Edwards hit the headlines again when he questioned and seemed to reject his Christian beliefs.

/1 He's said he hates kids and hates history, so for perversity alone author Terry Deary, of Burnhope, County Durham, has to make our list for the huge success of his history books for children.

His Horrible Histories series is responsible for turning more pupils on to the subject than establishment figures like David Starkey.

Deary, a former actor and drama teacher, was already a prolific children's author before his publisher came up with the idea for Horrible Histories. It was originally intended to be a joke book with a few historical facts but the facts proved so interesting to Deary he turned the idea on its head and it became a fact-based book with jokes.

Since he wrote the first in the series, Terrible Tudors, in 1993 more than 60 further books have followed which have sold more than 25 million copies in 40 countries.

A hugely popular BBC children's television series has followed plus a West End play.

The hallmark of Horrible Histories is bizarre, little known - and if possible revolting - facts.

$ )) He is remembered as the 18th Century's greatest concerto composer and would be nationally acclaimed today were it not for the love of his native Newcastle.

Anybody who can shun likely riches because he preferred it here to London has got to feature highly on our list, particularly when he has talent to match.

And Avison was also an anti-establishment figure, literally risking his life to write songs in support of the second Jacobite rebellion in 1745 when the Scots marched on London. He was the son of Richard and Anne Avison, both musicians. His only education can have been at one of the two charity schools serving St John's parish when it is believed he had early contact with Ralph Jenison, a patron of the arts and later a member of Parliament.

As a young man, he travelled to London to study under the famous Italian composer Francesco Geminiani. However, he became homesick for Newcastle and returned in 1735, accepting the position of church organist at St John's Church in Newcastle. …

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