The Blaydon Races holds a unique place in the heart of every Geordie. On any given match day during the football season you can hear George Ridley's cherished words ringing around whichever football ground the famous Newcastle United happen to be playing at. And when the team is playing at home on the hallowed turf of St James's Park, the sound generated can be breathtaking. But the song is only part of it. William Irving's wonderful 1903 painting of the same name captures the characters mentioned in the song beautifully; characters who were very much real people, known on Tyneside and beyond; known by their own generations and by those that have followed them. Coffee Johnny, Ned Wright, The Swalwell Cat, Gull Willie. The names themselves flow like poetry in the ears and in the hearts of the Geordie diaspora. As everyone well knows, it was in Eighteen Hundred and Sixty Two, on a summer's afternoon that the bus was first loaded for Blaydon. And come June 9th, 2012, it will be the 150th anniversary of that auspicious day. What are we petitioning for? Well, we want Newcastle and Gateshead Councils to work together - in active engagement with the people of Tyneside and beyond - to help develop a fitting programme of celebrations to commemorate this pivotal moment in our history. Granted, times are hard. But we believe that this key date should not go by unrecognised. Back in 1962 the centenary celebrations were superb. The vast range of photos and videos that can be viewed on various social networking sites clearly show that. All we ask is that a programme at least as good as that is developed. The 9th of June 2012 falls on a Saturday. Everything is in our favour. We can do something which will be remembered for generations to come; something that will reinvigorate the sense of pride in the hearts of all Geordies; something that will unite our beautiful and wonderful Tyneside in glorious celebration. And if it’s handled well, we can create a programme of events that will draw significant money into the area, with all that that could mean for our people. All it requires is the collective will to prepare, plan and deliver those events. We are petitioning for a clear and sustained commitment on the part of the two Councils to work hand-in-hand with the Geordie people to help deliver this celebration for the greatest place in the world!