Poet inspired by childhood memories of Barnard Castle
AN octogenarian writer has published his first book of poems and is giving all profits to a Barnard Castle charity to help continue their “valuable work”.
Denis Hodgson, 80, said his childhood in Teesdale was magical and most of his youth was spent “between the bridges” in Barnard Castle playing with friends along the shores of the River Tees.
Mr Hodgson, who lives in Yate in Gloucestershire with his wife Hilda, was brought up in Thorngate Wynd, in Barnard Castle.
So, it is little surprise his first book of poetry, which he published during lockdown, is titled The Green Bridge, after the river crossing at Thorngate. He said: “I have always been interested in word play and have written poems most of my life. I did have some published in a book in the seventies, an anthology with about 60 other poets.
“At the time I was encouraged to carry on, but I was keen to concentrate on my career and look after my family.”
After time spent in the forces, where he ferried equipment to remote locations around the UK, Mr Hodgson took up a career with Unilever operating distribution.
He retired in 1994 and although “dreamed” of returning to Barnard Castle has remained settled down south where his family have put down roots, but he tries to visit each year for a full family reunion.
This year the reunion had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so he dusted off his poetry files and reminisced of his childhood in the 40s and 50s.
He added: “The first poem I wrote was ‘Yesterday’. When we were young, we used to regularly go to Thorsgill up to the wood and I used to tell my children all about the fun we had there.
“So as we were over to Barney most weekends when I took them up, but it was nothing like it used to be. The wood has gone and I thought, it’s not like yesterday.”
The 56-page soft back book is filled with poems about Barnard Castle and the surrounding area, though there are some he penned about his family including his grand-daughter Claire, now the editor-in-chief of women’s magazine Cosmopolitan UK.
He said: “I haven’t published the book to make money. I just have such great memories growing up in Barney.”
The book is on sale at Connelly’s Toyshop for £7 and Mr Hodgson is donating all the profits to the TCR Hub’s care packages. He added: “Everything above the printing costs is going to the Hub. I wanted the money to go somewhere to benefit people of the town and a lot of people suggested the charity as their care packages have really made a difference during lockdown.”