Whitley Bay is a splendid stretch of sand north of Tynemouth and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. At the northern end is St Mary’s Island, a tidal rocky islet with a lighthouse. This is a place that has happy memories for many people as overlooking this lovely spot are numerous memorial benches. On a fine day in August I walked along the path beside these benches, reading the inscription on each one and thinking about the people remembered at this special place.
This bench remembers a couple, Ronald and Jean Stevenson. Jean Stevenson died in 2016 and Ronald lived 16 months longer until they were “together again.” Look out across the North Sea from the bench and you can see where the sky touches the sea.
The dedications read, “LOVED & SADLY MISSED RONALD STEVENSON 12.12.36-26.02.18 “TOGETHER AGAIN” MEMORIES HERE WILL LINGER ON LONG AFTER OUR FOOTPRINTS HAVE GONE. ” And, “IN LOVING MEMORY OF JEAN STEVENSON 22.04.40-27.10.16 BELOVED WIFE OF RONNIE “OUR SPECIAL PLACE” MEET ME WHERE THE SKY TOUCHES THE SEA.”
Jean Stevenson’s funeral notice tells a story of a woman with a large and loving family. The couple had four children, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren as well as many friends. Jean Stevenson lived in Edinburgh and later in the lovely town of Prestonpans and Whitley Bay was clearly somewhere they cherished.
I am sure the memory of Ronald and Jean Stevenson lingers on long after my own footprints in the sand at Whitley Bay have faded away.