Performance to highlight work of lifesavers

The cast of the play with the figurehead 'First of May'.
The cast of the play with the figurehead 'First of May'.

A disaster which led to the formation of a lifesaving organisation is being brought to the stage.

A live performance of the radio play Figureheads has been put together by Whitley Bay writer Noreen Rees.

It tells the story of the Stanley disaster which 32 people from two ships and a lifeboat drown in the mouth of the Tyne in November 1864, leading to the formation of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade (TVLB).

The performance – involving five north east actors, including Penny Lamport and Karen Traynor from Whitley Bay – takes place in the TVLB’s Watch House, in Tynemouth, on Sunday, January 24, at 3pm.

Tickets are free but must be booked by emailing Sam Levy via with name, contact details and number of tickets required.

Refreshments are available and a collection will be made for TVLB funds.

There will also be readings of poetry and short stories from Victoria Watson’s Whitley Bay writing group.

Figureheads the radio play will also be recorded and released in Spring 2016, available to listen as an online radio play via

It forms part of a series of Culture Bites audio recordings from locations across North Tyneside – including TVLB Watch House, St Mary’s Lighthouse, Old Low Light and Segedunum – showcasing the work of local writers and the voice of local people.

The project is sponsored by Arts Council England and North Tyneside Council.

Rachel Cochrane, audio producer for, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be recording Noreen’s play Figureheads and also taking it to a live audience, especially in such an atmospheric and historic venue.”

Actor Penny Lamport, who plays the figurehead Rupert, said: “I’m delighted to be part of ‘Figureheads. ‘Rupert’ may be a rather small and plain figurehead in the museum, but Noreen has given her a strong character with a touch of misanthropy which is great fun to play.”