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North East Connected

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A former boxing World Champion will spar with one of the North East’s best loved playwrights as a leading literary festival returns to the region.

The third annual WRITE Festival – which celebrates the written word in all its forms – will take place from Saturday 11 to Friday 24 May at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, at South Shields.

And, on Wednesday 22 May, it has a treat for sports fans, when multi-award-winning playwright, Ed Waugh, will be in conversation with former boxing World Champion, Glenn McCrory, at a special one-off event at Jarrow Focus.

Glenn achieved one of the greatest individual sporting accomplishments by a North East athlete in the 20th century when he defeated odds-on favourite Patrick Lumumba at The Louisa Centre, Stanley, in 1989.

The match, in front of 1500 fans and a worldwide live television audience, earned him the Cruiserweight World title – and the motivation for Glenn’s victory was his terminally ill brother, David, who had the muscle wasting disease, Friedreich’s Ataxia.

“David was my inspiration,” said Glenn. “He joined the McCrory family when he was six years old and, as he was only 17 months younger than me, we became very close.”

The disease meant David struggled to walk and, as children, Glenn would carry him on his back, inspiring the title of the boxer’s five-star autobiography, Carrying David and a new stage play of the same name, written by Ed Waugh and starring Micky Cochrane.

The play will form the focus of Glenn McCrory In Conversation with Ed Waugh, and Glenn said: “I saw Ed’s excellent play, Hadaway Harry, three years ago and knew he was the only one I could trust to write this with the correct balance of emotion and, importantly, humour. Despite his problems, David had a great sense of humour.

“As a teenager I was heralded as a potential future heavyweight champion,” he said. “Bad management saw me go from being a great hope to a whipping boy – obviously, I felt sorry for myself, but David was always there to support me. He attended training when he could and kept a scrapbook of my career.

“Later, when his body was twisted and totally dependent on carers, I realised that what I was up against was nothing in comparison to him. David always smiled and laughed and encouraged me; his spirit was ferocious.

“Just being with David inspired me to pick myself up and start again. As a teenager, he may not have been on my back, physically, but he was always on my back metaphorically, encouraging and supporting me.”

Glenn added: “On the one hand Carrying David is upsetting for me personally but on the other it’s a fantastic story and Ed is a top writer. He has written a brilliant script. I’m delighted with it. This story really is an emotional roller coaster.”

Tania Robinson, Head of Culture, at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, said the festival is “delighted that Glenn and Ed are taking part.

“Glenn’s story is fascinating and Ed is just the person to bring it to an audience,” she said, “so this one-off event is going to be absolutely unmissable.”

Glenn McCrory In Conversation With Ed Waugh will take place from 6.30pm to 8pm and tickets, which cost  £5, are available from The Word or via theworduk.org/whats-on/glenn-mccrory-in-conversation-at-jarrow-focus.

The stage play, Carrying David, will tour the North East in May and June, calling at The Westovian Theatre, South Shields, on Saturday, 8 June, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

For further information about The WRITE Festival, and to book tickets, visit www.theworduk.org/write.

By admin