TODAY'S Object of the Week is a blue plaque unveiled in tribute to a North East showman.

HE was a showman, choreographer, dancer and DJ - a real all-round entertainer.

And now the contribution made by former UK dance champion and West End choreographer Gary Gillespie Davison has been officially recognised.

Read more: How this County Durham village got its name (and it's got nothing to do with bears)

Heavily involved in the arts in South Tyneside, Gary lived in South Shields until his death, aged 64, in February 2020.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Pat Hay unveiled the blue plaque at the site of the former La Strada nightclub, in South Shields.

The Northern Echo: Mayor of South Tyneside Cllr Pat Hay and Mayoress Mrs Jean Copp, join Sandford Goudie and Colin Reah unveil a blue plaque to Gary Gillespie at the former La Strada, South ShieldsMayor of South Tyneside Cllr Pat Hay and Mayoress Mrs Jean Copp, join Sandford Goudie and Colin Reah unveil a blue plaque to Gary Gillespie at the former La Strada, South Shields

She was joined by Sandford Goudie, the former owner of the site on the junction of Station Road and Commercial Road, alongside Gary’s friends and family.

The Mayor said it was a "real honour" to unveil the blue plaque to celebrate the life and work of Gary and his "wonderful contribution" to South Tyneside’s performing arts scene.

She added: “As an all-round entertainer, Gary played many different characters, but he always stayed true to himself.

"He achieved great things in life and brought smiles to the faces of so many people. He was also a selfless person and supported the Mayor’s charities.

“This blue plaque is a fitting tribute to a larger-than-life local personality whose leaves behind a legacy of special memories for many people.”

Gary is famously known for being UK Disco Dance champion and winning many dance titles during the 1980s and 90s.

The Northern Echo: Gary Gillespie DavisonGary Gillespie Davison

He spent much of his time performing at charity events around the UK and the region, including the Mayor’s Ball. He was also a regular performer at Miss South Tyneside beauty competitions.

Gary travelled to London in the late 1980s and early 90s to work on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End production of Starlight Express and was assistant choreographer to Arlene Philips.

He worked on many productions including 42nd Street and choreographed the cheerleaders for the American film production, Stormy Monday.

On his return to the North East, he also continued to perform at The Customs House and played Sandy in a production of the Machine Gunners at South Tyneside College, which was also performed at Edinburgh Festival.

Gary went on to become a very popular DJ, working at the old La Strada club as well as the Chameleon and Chelsea Cat night club.

The blue plaque, which features a hat and baton motif, was funded by Gary’s family and friends, including Colin Reah who nominated him for a blue plaque.

The Northern Echo: The blue plaque to Gary Gillespie DavisonThe blue plaque to Gary Gillespie Davison

Colin said: “Not long after Gary passed away, I was thinking how much Covid robbed him of his send-off due to the limited amount of people that was allowed at his funeral.

"I thought it would be fantastic if I could organise a plaque to honour him in some way, especially after everything he has done and achieved throughout his very happy life.

“I was so happy Gary would be remembered in this way and I’m so grateful for the support of the council which was in constant contact with me regards to the planning and organising of Gary’s big day.

"The turnout was overwhelming. Everyone went on to the Chameleon bar where Gary was also once a DJ where we celebrated his life. It was a beautiful day.”

* Under the South Tyneside blue plaque scheme, local people are invited to put forward people and places that they feel are important to the history and heritage of the borough and deserve to be considered for a commemorative blue plaque.

Nominations for 2023/24 are currently being welcomed until the closing date of September 30, 2022.

For further information about blue plaques in South Tyneside, including how to make a nomination and eligibility criteria, visit

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054