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Mackenzie was born in 1956, the eldest of seven children. His early years were spent in a small terraced house in the town centre of Middlesborough.
His early formative years were spent playing in and around the streets and back alleys of terraced houses. Derelict bombed out houses provided an exciting playground for Mackenzie and his Uncle Lawrence – three years older and a protective, guiding influence in Mackenzie’s life.
Mackenzie’s father worked as a labourer and his mother an auxiliary nurse. Life for the Thorpe family was no different to that of most of their community – at times a struggle.