Joe Forster Obituary

Joe Forster of High Spen Blue Diamonds died recently after a short illness.

Joe was one of Freddie Forster's sons and had been a Rapper dancer all of his life, performing with his brothers and father as the Blue Diamonds. He was born and brought up in High Spen and spent a happy childhood wandering around the countryside and developing a great curiosity and depth of knowledge about the natural world around him. The family moved from the pits and collieries of High Spen to Birtley and the tradition travelled with them.

Joe eventually moved away from the pits and put in a great deal of time at night classes eventually qualifying as an engineer. He took great pride in being able to fix anything. “Just call me Joe” was his quip. One Saturday night during a High Spen dance weekend, Joe and brother Colin received a call from a stranded acquaintance in a broken down car. Rapidly borrowing a neighbour's keys he removed the starting motor from the neighbour's car sped off into the wilds of Tyneside, replaced the stranded car's starter and both were back in the ‘do’ within 20 minutes. “I can fix owt. Just call me Joe.”

Joe had a deep understanding of the dance and could recall most of the Spen's 30 figures. Occasionally, during workshops his strong Geordie accent would defeat some bamboozled Southerner and after repeating the instructions a few times for effect, he would request a translator and happily observe as the problem was sorted “See Aah telt ye what te dee, but ye wad'n lissen.” A wink and a broad grin followed. Joe was well known and respected beyond his native Tyneside and with wife Yvonne and Lee his son, he was a strong supporter of the Forster family tradition. The rapper world seems a little emptier without him.