A FORMER Olympic canoe coach who is using his love of water and a forthcoming meeting of world leaders to raise awareness of climate change in his very own unique and special way has received the backing of a North East council.

David Train, who was born in Stockton, has spent years calling on world leaders to sign his Paddle for Life – a wooden canoe paddle which he is hoping to use a symbol to spread his message.

He is hoping his Paddle for Life project will be completed in time for the Paris Olympics in 2024, and as part of the project, he is hoping to create a regatta before every Olympics.

Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May have all signed his paddle, as well as former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, European leaders and numerous Tees Valley politicians.

And now, Mr Train has receiveda boost from Hartlepool Borough Council in his latest efforts to raise awareness.

Cllr Shane Moore, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, has agreed to fly the signal flags Whisky and Echo outside of Hartlepool Civic Centre on November 5, which is in the middle of the COP26 Conference in Glasgow.

Mr Train, who has also asked other council leaders across the Tees Valley to do the same, chose the flags to spell out WE because ''we the United Kingdom, knowing that WE have an emergency are changing course to avoid a catastrophe".

He said: "I believe that it will be the start of the creation of a truly world story which will develop over the years.

"As Boris Johnson knows, it is stories which change the world and sadly it seems now that no great story of hope for humanity will arise from Glasgow.  However, with Hartlepool now leading the way the Tees Valley Team will quickly be able to create  the example for the whole of the UK about how we can, "Together" as Team GB, create that new story we need for humanity."

"Hartlepool, the first town in the world to do so will "Nail our colours to their mast" on 5th November.

"Boris has talked about building bridges across the North Sea and the Irish Sea as symbols connecting GB to the world.  Tees Valley can use its bridges and other landmarks to become a symbol of how the UK can bring the world together to tackle the existential crisis WE face.  

"WE can send out that signal by flying the world's flags from our bridges, harbours and other landmarks.  Tees Valley, using its creativity can lead the way for the UK."  

Mr Train also wants to see the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough used as part of his awareness campaign despite uncertainty over its long-term future. 

"My thoughts were turned back to Tees Valley a couple of weeks ago when the landmark Dorman Long Tower was demolished.  All my stories are about using our heritage on which to build a new future and losing the tower meant losing a landmark. I looked up the landmark that I have always used for Tees Valley - the Transporter and saw that it has been closed down for repairs.

"I am glad for it seems to me that it is the Transporter that could be turned into that world landmark symbolising the world moving from the Industrial Revolution to the Green Industrial Revolution."

Mr Train spent 12 years as a Great Britain Olympic canoe coach and helped the teams who competed at the Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta games between 1984 and 1996.

He was responsible for designing the first Bell Boat, which helps to encourage people to take up water sports.

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