Sting receives freedom of the Borough

Music icon Sting returned home to North Tyneside to receive the Freedom of the Borough.

The Wallsend-born musician, whose real name is Gordon Matthew Sumner CBE, accepted the honour during a special ceremony surrounded by loved ones, and special guests at the Exchange 1856 building in North Shields.

The event saw Sting become the first artist to grace the venue following a stunning renovation exceeding £1m.

Having travelled by Metro to be there, he told a packed auditorium that he was very proud, that he owed North Tyneside a great deal, and that it brought him ‘full circle’ back to the place where he once dreamt of a life in music.

He told North Tyneside Council that the new-look Exchange building would be an important addition to the North Shields Cultural Quarter and would help to nurture the next generation of creative talent.

Sting rose to prominence as the frontman for the band The Police before forging a successful solo career. Sting has sold over 100 million albums from his combined work with The Police and as a solo artist.  He has won countless awards globally including 17 Grammys and four BRIT Awards. Earlier this year, Sting became a Fellow of the Ivors Academy – the highest honour reserved for those who have reshaped and redefined the art and craft of music creation, while his hit song, “Every Breath You Take” was added to Spotify’s ‘Billions Club,’ having amassed over 1 billion streams on the platform with the correlating music video surpassing 1 billion streams on YouTube.

The Freedom of the Borough award is the highest honour any local authority can bestow, and it recognises the 72-year-old's achievements, lasting influence on the global music landscape, and advocacy for North Tyneside.

Having initially been granted the award in 2010, the formal celebration was put on hold due to Sting's demanding touring schedule. It was only recently, during a chance encounter with Councillor Frank Lott at a Newcastle United game, that the opportunity to commemorate Sting's outstanding achievements finally emerged.

I have an abiding sense of gratitude for the place I was born and raised. I have a very real gift of knowing exactly where I come from, and who I am. “Know thyself, the philosopher said, and divvent get carried away. “I’ve come full circle to the river that spawned me and the community that raised me. I hope I’ll continue to represent me, my friends, and my community and that I won’t let you down – that’s a promise.

Councillor Brian Burdis, Chair of North Tyneside Council made the presentation alongside The Exchange owner Paul Stonebanks OBE.

Sting’s incredible career is something we can all appreciate and celebrate as a real inspiration. He’s an ambassador not just for the borough, but for the North East and the UK all around the world. He was originally awarded this Civic Honour in 2010, though due to his touring schedule at the time, we never did get together to mark the occasion properly – and that’s what brings us together today.
Councillor Brian Burdis, Chair of North Tyneside Council
We’re very proud to welcome Sting home to North Tyneside to receive the award at the beautifully transformed Exchange 1856 building. The venue will play a key role in fostering the next wave of musical and artistic talent as part of our North Shields Cultural Quarter. I am delighted that Sting is the first artist to grace the stage on this special occasion.
North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Dame Norma Redfearn DBE

A dream of pop stardom

Sting was born Gordon Matthew Sumner in 1951. His mum Audrey was a hairdresser, and dad Ernest was a milkman.

His interest in music had begun in his teens, and he had practiced at the Buddle Arts Centre and recorded at the Impulse Sound Studios in Wallsend.

While he dreamed of pop stardom, Sting had trained as a teacher. His first teaching job had been at St Paul’s School in Cramlington.

But he had continued with his music. He had performed at evenings, weekends, and during breaks from teaching. He had played with North East jazz bands such as the Phoenix Jazzmen, the Newcastle Big Band, and Last Exit. He had then joined drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers in London to form The Police in 1977, going on to produce hits like Roxanne, Message in a Bottle, and Every Breath You Take.

In 1985 Sting released his debut solo album The Dream of The Blue Turtles, building the foundation for what would become one of the most illustrious and enduring solo careers of all time.

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