Born in 1934 Ken Longstaff has lived all of his life within the Boldons, apart from two years National Service in the Durham Light Infantry. Son of a proud father Herbert and step mum Florence (nee Black, whose father and uncle were builders in Boldon and Cleadon and built the old Co-op store at Black's corner) Ken went to the local infant and junior schools, one of four generations of Longstaffs to do so!
Very much influenced by his father's sporting prowess Ken became a keen cyclist, table tennis player, cricketer and more recently a golfing fanatic. His happiest memories tell of his cycling expeditions to the new Greyhoud Stadium Building and returning with a bucketful of sand - not inspiring? Well he was only four at the time and he was on his three wheeler bike! When he was a little older, fourteen actually, he cycled to London! to see the Olympics and on holiday dropped into the Oval to see Don Bradmans' last ever test. This then was another of his great passions - cricket. He learnt his cricket at Boldon Cricket Club and played first team cricket at 14! Winning the John SaundersCcup in that season. The team did have a little help though from ex England cricketers Alec Coxon and Willie Watson. It is interesting to note that two further generations of Longstaffs are following in Ken's footsteps. Byron, his son who plays at Boldon and his daughter April's second child, Nicholas, who is a "colt" there.
It was on one of his away games in Seaham that he came across his wife, Joyce, a keen tennis player at the time and by all accounts a good catch! They agreed to meet at Seaham Hall Dance, a halfway point, and from that day forward enjoyed a happy and successful relationship being married in Seaham in 1962. They have two children, April and Byron , each now with their own children who Ken and Joyce absolutely adore. Ken enjoys his visits especially to the Sunderland Academy to watch grandson Nicholas play and Naomi, Fraser and Isobel who reaularly go to St George's with Joyce.
Ken is a keen Methodist and has been attending Ewesley Road in Sunderland all his life . Getting back to cricket, perhaps his greatest love, he tells of his exploits for the Minor Counties, playing the Indians at Ashbrooke, playing at Old Trafford and Edgegbaston, playing for the army in China and Germany. "In my day", he would say, "nobody took their holidays in the cricket season" and at the end of the season you would find him at Scarborough. Why? No, not for a holiday but for the cricket festival!
But perhaps Ken is best known for his work in his father's shop in the village. His friendly smile and welcoming manner created a plethora of personal friends from the customers who frequented the shop, Longstaff's, also known as Ken's - especially to the kids who got the scraps of ham and sausage free of charge!
He talks fondly of village life, ice skating every winter on the Flats, long walks especially on the seafront and around the village - a real Boldon Lad.
His pet hates include litter and waste expecially that discarded by thoughtless individuals. His philosophy on life is summed up in a few words "What is gone, is gone. Always look to the future and make the best of it." and Ken continues to do so, still playing competitive table tennis, golf and of course still enjoying supporting the future generations of Longstaffs within the Boldons.
Links to other Boldon Characters:
Catherine Lynch | Cristobal Compois | Elaine Carr | Etta | Hannah Walker | Harry Reay | Hilary and Wout | Howard Ross | Ian Cullen | Keith Jones | Ken Longstaff | Sam Bartram | Yvonne Quenet