TRAFALGAR hero Admiral Lord Collingwood was the toast of the town this week.
The community gathered to pay tribute to the former Morpeth resident on Trafalgar Day on Monday.
It was Collingwood who led the British fleet to victory at the famous sea battle following the death of his friend Lord Nelson.
And the Collingwood Toast has become something of an annual tradition in the town the admiral called home.
This year’s event began with tributes at the Collingwood Bust in Morpeth Town Hall, where a wreath was laid by Mayor Joan Tebbutt for Morpeth Town Council and a garland was placed around the bronze by Kim Bibby-Wilson on behalf of the Collingwood Society.
Royal Navy sailors from HMS Grimsby formed a guard of honour, including Ponteland resident Andrew Forsyth.
He said: “We train at HMS Collingwood so we are all aware of Admiral Lord Collingwood and there is a clear connection there for us.
“I think it is very important to recognise what he did like this. Lord Collingwood made the Royal Navy what it is today.”
After the ceremony, there was a procession to the admiral’s former home, Collingwood House in Oldgate, where children from St Robert’s RC First School joined the commemoration.
Coun Tebbutt spoke of Collingwood’s contribution to the nation and his love of Morpeth.
She said: “The statue of Admiral Lord Collingwood at the mouth of the Tyne, looking out for his nation, is well known. Looking out for his nation is something he did throughout his life, guarding and preserving the interests of Britain, and for that he deserves our acknowledgement and our gratitude.
“But to us gathered here now in Morpeth on Northumberland soil, on the doorstep of his beloved home, he is one of our own – a local lad who did our region proud – and for that too he deserves our acknowledgment.”
The Mayor finished with the words of Collingwood himself about the town: “Whenever I think how I am to be happy again, my thoughts carry me back to Morpeth.”
Fr Lawrence Jones, who as parish priest at St Robert Church lives in Collingwood House, then said a prayer for the Royal Navy.
At noon, the time when the first cannon shot was fired at Trafalgar, Andy Griffin, of the Collingwood Society, led the toast to Collingwood, followed by a toast to the Royal Navy by Commander Wood.
Morpeth Town Council provided specially-prepared ‘grog’ for the occasion, made with rum, lime juice and ginger beer.