The first Northumberland Day weekend saw thousands of people enjoying events and special initiatives the length and breadth of the county, not to mention celebrating on mountain sides in New Zealand and in sunny Spanish piazzas!
A giant-sized Northumberland Day curtain-raiser, at the birthplace of Northumberland Day – Langley Castle Hotel in Langley-on-Tyne – saw the world’s biggest stottie unveiled to hundreds of visitors who poured into the castle all day.
Devised by Langley’s head chef, Mark Percival, in conjunction with Dean Gibbon, head baker at Geordie Bakers in Newcastle, this circular whopper had a diameter of one metre and weighed 15kg when baked. When the traditional Northumbrian filling of pease pudding and ham was added, the weight rose to over 60kg.
The first cut of the stottie was unusually made by the sword of military historian and re-enactment specialist, John Sadler of Time Bandits. Mark Percival made the incisive cut, with Langley Castle’s American owner of 31 years, Dr Stuart Madnick, looking on.
Once the stottie had received its moment in the limelight, it was cut up and sold, with the money raised being donated to the Great North Air Ambulance.
Visitors to Langley were also the first to see the wonderful bespoke awards created to reward those who put extra-special effort into celebrating the first Northumberland Day. Created by fused glass artist, Helen Grierson, these awards caught everyone’s eye, as stunning representations of Northumberland’s heritage, landscape and industry.
With falconry, the Sunshine Panners steel band and historic activities with Time Bandits, all visitors had a thrilling day out.
The same was true of those heading to Hexham Abbey, where crowds enjoyed an al fresco performance by young string artists, historic and heritage-focused activities from Wild Dog Outdoors, craft and dressing-up activities within the Abbey and some atmospheric Northumbrian piping from Sue Dunne.
Events on Northumberland Day itself included a full village celebration in Beadnell, where the Craster Arms and Salt Water Café were festooned with bunting and flags, as well as being the hub of music and food-related Northumberland Day celebrations. Visitors to the Northumberland Day car boot sale could not help but see a blaze of red and yellow from decorations and flags and a gingerbread cake contest was waged in the WI Hall, determining which baker produced the best cake from all of those baked to the same recipe.
Meanwhile, walkers heading out on Northumberland Day walks with North East Guides – one of four special walks taking place on the day – posed to be photographed with a full-sized Northumberland flag. The red and yellow theme also took over the village of Haydon Bridge, where a street closure allowed families to enjoy a wide variety of activities to the strains of live musicians. A village picnic, balloon race, Northumbrian butties and a large number of arts and crafts stalls created a vibrant atmosphere enjoyed by hundreds of people.
Michelle Brannigan, Ashington Town Team Co-ordinator, posted a photo of a Northumberland flag being waved in Churchill, New Zealand, on her Facebook page. Michelle was the force behind a special Northumbrian market and the raising of a Northumberland flag in the Memorial Garden in Ashington and also liaised with local resident, John Emery, who arranged sell-out rock concert – Ashington Rocks.
And from Murcia, Spain, one of the co-founders of Northumberland Day, Anton Phillips, the former general manager of Langley Castle, who retired in late 2016 after 25 years at the helm, showed that his passion for Northumberland has not waned. Anton sent various photographs back, highlighting his continued support for the initiative, as he posed with Northumberland flags in a variety of locations.
Dr Stuart Madnick, who first put out the call for Northumberland Day in July 2015, said: “We are now already thinking about Northumberland Day 2018 and will be announcing the date for the celebration soon. We are delighted that we managed to work with over 50 event and activity organisers and stage over 60 Northumberland Day events over the course of two weeks, with no funding or corporate sponsorship for our activity programme. This has embedded Northumberland Day in people’s hearts and will be the cornerstone of something very special in 2018, when we hope to see resources materialising. We have exciting strategies for taking things forward and will announce these when we are ready to do so.
“In the meantime, we have the serious job of working with the sponsors of our Northumbie Awards – including Waitrose in Hexham, Helen Grierson Glass Studio and The Northumbrian magazine – to decide who the winners of our inaugural Northumbie Awards will be.”
Northumberland Day organiser, Jane Hunt, MD of Catapult PR said: “We have to thank all of those who put so much into Northumberland Day 2017, devoting their time, efforts and passion, whether they were creating an event, taking part in an activity or supporting us with social media messages and shares. We have the “wind in our sails” now, as one participant has noted, due to the collected passion that Northumbrians and Northumbrian communities have for their county.”
Northumberland Day’s website – www.northumberlandday.net - and its Facebook page will continue to be the communications mechanisms for the initiative in the short term and a newsletter will be created soon. Those interested in receiving the newsletter can sign up at the website.
Anyone wishing to put themselves forward for involvement in Northumberland Day 2018 should email Jane Hunt on NDay@catapultpr.co.uk
Press calls: Jane Hunt, Catapult PR, 01253 891114 – firstname.lastname@example.org