Langley Castle, the champion of the county’s first-ever Northumberland Day, which will this year take place on Sunday May 28 and the week in and around that date, is celebrating the fact that its idea has now engaged communities, businesses and schools across the county, from Haltwhistle to Howick and beyond.
The initiative’s new website – www.northumberlandday.net - has an ever-increasing number of events being added to its listing, with one of the latest being a Hexham Art Club event. Hexham is not the only art club to be involved in the celebrations, as Craster Art Club is also staging a Northumberland Day exhibition.
Whilst Haydon Bridge village was one of the earliest communities to get involved and plan an event for the whole community, such enthusiasm is now also being seen in other parts of Northumberland. Beadnell village has a vibrant event planned, which even involves a Gingerbread Cake contest, in which all contestants will bake to the same recipe.
Haltwhistle Walking Festival’s two special Northumberland Day walks have helped inspire other walks, arranged by Shepherd’s Walks and North East Guides, as some people head to the hills to wave their Northumberland Day flags in the landscape.
One area in which the Hexham, Haltwhistle and Haydon Bridge areas are a little behind others is that of school engagement. The beacon of best practice here is Newsham Primary in Blyth, which is having a week-long immersion in the heritage of the county in the run up to Northumberland Day, encouraging its children to wear red and yellow, planting flower beds and doing up an old boat in the playground in those colours, and even making stottie fillings!
Organisers of Northumberland Day are urging teachers in the Hexham, Haydon Bridge and Haltwhistle areas to let their children get behind the celebrations, particularly as there are now ‘Northumbie Awards’ to be won and one school will scoop the Jill Bradbury Award for the ‘Most Inspiring School’.
The Northumbies are very special bespoke awards, created in fused glass by Northumbrian artist Helen Grierson, so one school will win a unique prize. There are also Northumbies for the ‘Best Dressed Village or Parish’, sponsored by The Northumbrian Magazine and ‘Best Designed Event’, sponsored by Helen Grierson, and a few more categories could yet emerge.
The Daily Mail has already picked up on the Northumberland Day event at Hexham Abbey -Turbulent Tales of Northumberland’ – which will be a fascinating, hands-on living history day for the entire family, created by the Abbey’s education team, in association with Hexham Town Council, and featuring Wild Dog Outdoors.
This lively and colourful event will bring characters from Northumberland’s turbulent past to life, including William Wallace and Saint Wilfred. Andy Bates of Phenix Studios will reveal whether Hexham’s long-standing leather industry made Hexham the smelliest town in the region and Ruth Hicken, of Textiles Through Time, will show people how not to get their knickers in a twist while making them! Everyone will have a chance to get their hands dirty as they have a go with clay, train as a knight, work with leather, make life-saving ointments or write medieval letters.
As the champion of Northumberland Day, Langley Castle had to create something special and its Border Reivers Day, running on May 27, will certainly be that. Here, the Time Bandits group of re-enactors will be transporting people back to 1569, establishing a Warden’s Court and period camp, which will operate handling activities throughout the day, as children and adults alike get hands-on with armoury and other items and get ready to do battle.
Storytelling sessions will keep everyone enthralled, whilst seeing the Warden’s Court in action will keep all on their toes! There will be a pike drill for beginners, a chance to find out more about period food and medicine, ballads aplenty and even a children’s battle.
There will also be falconry displays from Falconry Days (11am to 1pm), and arts, crafts and food stalls, including stallholders such as the Northumberland Honey Co and Pete's Pudding (pease pudding maker). There will also be music from the Sunshine Panners steel band and something special, yet to be revealed!
Kicking off the whole of the Northumberland Day celebrations in Tynedale will be Hexham Racecourse, which has a Northumberland Day meeting on Tuesday May 23 and a Northumberland Day stakes. Joining the racecourse as an event organizer in the world of sport is SMILE Through Sport, founded by Paralympian Stephen Miller MBE. This organisation will be laying on two disability sport taster events, in Alnwick and Blyth, to help celebrate Northumberland Day.
Northumberland Day organizer, Jane Hunt, says: “Day by day now, we are getting more events and celebrations being added to the list. This is a grass-roots initiative that is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in the country and it’s all being achieved through passion and enthusiasm, with not a penny of funding, which is remarkable.
“We feel that Langley Castle has helped to establish something that will one day be as big as Yorkshire Day, if not bigger, so we can’t thank everyone enough for their support. We still want more, however, particularly school celebrations and food and drink events. The important thing is to let us know, if you are doing something, so that we can promote it and consider it for a Northumbie Award!”
More information can be found at www.northumberlandday.net and www.facebook.com/northumberlandday Alternatively, email NDay@catapultpr.co.uk
Press calls: Jane Hunt, Catapult PR, 01253 891114 – firstname.lastname@example.org