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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Students get shirty with PM Blair
Tony Blair in North Shields
Mr Blair accepted the replica shirt from students on Tyneside
Prime Minister Tony Blair has promised to wear a replica rugby shirt donated by Tyneside students during his sessions working out.

Mr Blair was in North Shields, where he met students at a newly-opened amalgamated college.

He travelled to the Tyne Metropolitan College after attending a two-minute silence in London, which followed the London bombings.

The new college caters for about 15,000 students from all over the region.

Mr Blair promised to wear the replica black Newcastle Falcons shirt while working out.

The shirt was a gift from mature student Angela Swann, whose husband works in Iraq for the British Embassy and who met Mr Blair there.

'Genuinely pleased'

She revealed how the two had talked about rugby and she took the opportunity to present the prime minister with the gift bearing Blair 10 printed on back.

In reference to England rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson, who usually wears the number 10 shirt, Mr Blair told her: "I think he has probably got the edge on me, but I will wear this when working out."

Ms Swann said: "He seemed genuinely pleased and it's great he has taken the time to come here after all that has gone on.

"Actually, I was very surprised at how well he looks."

During an hour-long visit to the flagship college, he toured departments and addressed students in the outside courtyard on the importance of further education.

He told students and lecturers: "What is happening in the whole world is that, instead of technology or financial capital being the key, it is human capital that is the key.

"The reason I am passionate about education is that in today's world it is the key to what everyone wants to achieve."

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