Royal birth has special significance for County Durham couple

The Northern Echo: John and Valerie Harrison John and Valerie Harrison

THE news of the Royal birth brought reaction from across the North.

And in a small part of County Durham there was more interest than most.

For John and Valerie Harrison have a connection to the happy couple.

Retired transport fitter Mr Harrison, of Hetton-le-Hole, near Durham, is a first cousin twice removed of Kate Middleton.

His uncle, Tom Harrison, who was also from Hetton, was the Duchess of Cambridge's great-grandfather, a link the family discovered a few years ago.

The couple have never met the Royals and almost missed the announcement of the future kings arrival as the news of the birth was kept under wraps until well into the night.

"To be perfectly honest, we had been switching backwards and forwards," Mrs Harrison said. "It was our grandson who rang and said have you got the television on?.

"We actually missed the very beginning. We switched over to find out and are absolutely thrilled."

Asked if they would be sending any words of congratulation, Mrs Harrison said: "Do you know, I was thinking we might send something to Carol (Middleton, Kates mother). I know that she will perhaps be in a position to reply, although I do know that Catherine did write a lovely personal thankyou letter to the cousin that did go to the wedding, and I think that says a lot about her."

Mrs Harrison said she had not had any inside information on a possible name.

"We had a few guesses and a few laughs along the way - I dont think it will be John," she said, in reference to her husband. "But you never know."

Elsewhere, Darlingtons town crier, Peter Stemmer took to the streets to proclaim the birth and the leader of the Borough Council, Bill Dixon said: "It is a very special day, as every parent will know. I am sure we all wish the new baby and his parents every happiness."

James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, added his best wishes.

"I hope everyone can celebrate this happy moment for a new mother and father, the significance and spotlight aside, this is a moment of real joy and happiness for a young couple and I hope they enjoy every moment," he said.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu sent his "warmest congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and also my prayers for them at this wonderful time". "It is marvellous that we share in the joy and hope of a new born child, which is a great gift of our Loving Creator God. Katonda Yebazibwe: God be praised," he said.

The Right Rev Mark Bryant, Bishop Of Jarrow, added his congratulations.

"Anybody who has been a parent or grandparent will know something of the joy and anxiety that the birth of a new baby brings. On behalf of the congregations of the Diocese of Durham I send our  warmest congratulations to the Duke and Duchess on the birth of their son," he said. "William and Kate will face particular pressures in the care and bringing up of their son and I hope that many in the North-East will be praying for them in these early days of being parents.

"Christians hold to the belief that we are all Royal children, Sons and Daughters of the King of Heaven. My prayer will be that this child may grow up knowing that he is loved not only by his family but also by the God who created him."

Staunch royalist Anita Atkinson had arranged an afternoon tea party to celebrate the arrival of the baby.

Mrs Atkinson, who has one of the worlds largest collections of Royal memorabilia and last year opened a cafe dedicated to the monarchy, held the party at her home near Crook, County Durham.

She said: "It is such a rare event to have four generations together.

"It is so exciting. The news really puts the UK on the map."

Comments (2)

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11:09am Tue 23 Jul 13

Andyleigh says...

Has Matt Westcott got nothing better to do with his time? How about some real stories,real journalism?
Has Matt Westcott got nothing better to do with his time? How about some real stories,real journalism? Andyleigh

5:07pm Tue 23 Jul 13

pxatkins says...

This really put the UK on the map?
This really put the UK on the map? pxatkins

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