Saturday, 19 August 2017

On your bike and get in gear! Tour of Britain comes to Northumberland

It's not long now until the Tour of Britain will return to the roads of Northumberland. Monday 4th September will see day 2 of the race pass some iconic landmarks including castles and the Kielder Dam. The race will start in Kielder Water and Forest Park and will pass through the Northumberland National Park, as well as many of Northumberland's towns and communities. You can watch the start of the race as the cyclists prepare to set off at Kielder Water and Forest Park at 10.15am on 4th September- it is fantastic to see the race return to Northumberland and I encourage everyone to go along and support some of the world's best cyclists as they cycle through Northumberland. More details here-

Friday, 18 August 2017

Allendale Agricultural Show- Tomorrow!

Don't forget to get along to the Allendale Agricultural Show tomorrow. Great day out for all the family- local businesses, livestock, entertainment and more!

Boots are made for Walking... 30th Haltwhistle Walking Festival

Northumberland is not short of stunning scenery and walks, and in October Haltwhistle will be celebrating its 30th Walking Festival. Since 2003, the festival has taken place twice a year and the 30th festival will this time be opened by explorers and adventurers Conrad and Hilary Dickinson before walkers will embark on the first long walk of the festival on Saturday 7th October- 14.5 miles to Whitley Castle. The nine day festival will be packed full of walks, with both longer (10-15 miles) and shorter (4.5-8 miles), so there is something for everyone! The routes are all around Tynedale with some taking in parts of Cumbria, so it is also a great opportunity to take in and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Northumberland.

Booking is now open and more information can be found at

Make sure to book your place on one of the many interesting walks- it will be a fantastic 9 days!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Boom Time for Northumberland Businesses

Supporting and promoting local businesses has always been a key part of my job and I am delighted to support the launch of Business Northumberland’s first ‘Business Boom’ at Linden Hall on 12th and 13th September.

Fully funded by Northumberland Business Development Company Arch and England European Regional Development Fund 2014 – 2020, the conference is free to attend for registered businesses and aims to provide business support for small and medium sized companies through workshops and one-to-one sessions. The event hopes to attract over one hundred companies and will provide a great networking opportunity for businesses to learn from each other.

Northumberland has a host of successful and innovative companies of all sizes and it is great to see an event like this specifically organized to provide support and advice on marketing, finance and funding.

To register for free, visit the Business Northumberland website. I would urge you to do so.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Northumberland Knowledge- The Hedley Kow

Northumberland is home to some fascinating tales, such as the tale of The Hedley Kow which comes from Hedley on the Hill.

The story goes that a poor woman finds a pot on the road full of gold pieces. She decides to take it home but when she looks inside she finds that the pot has turned into a lump of silver. She still keeps the pot though, deciding that this is better than gold because it is less likely to be stolen. A little while later the silver has turned into a lump of iron which she decides will be easier to sell, and further on the iron becomes a rock which she happily decides to use as a doorstop. When she reaches home the rock transforms into the Hedley Kow, a shapeshifting creature, which walks away laughing. Yet still the woman considers herself lucky, to have actually seen the Hedley Kow for herself.

A great story, all about optimism and looking on the bright side!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The National Lottery's Big Lottery Fund

The National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund is the largest community grant-maker in the UK, using money raised by National Lottery players to support a variety of good causes in the charity, voluntary, health, education and environmental sectors.

Over the last five years more than 176 community projects in Hexham have received around £2.5million from the Big Lottery Fund, making an immeasurable difference to the community. For example, Natural Ability in Hexham is supported with a grant of £315,000. The project supports disabled people, including those with learning disabilities, to improve their self-esteem and develop life-skills through agricultural and land-based activities. Participants receive training and hands-on experience to move them towards employment and independent living in the local rural farming environment.

The Big Lottery Fund is a fantastic source of support to so many charities and causes, and helps to improve the lives of people all over the community. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Cherryburn- making an impression

I recently paid a wonderful visit to Cherryburn in Mickley, birthplace of Thomas Bewick in 1753, one of the greatest engravers in our history. Bewick lived at Cherryburn until he was 14, when he went to Newcastle to become an apprentice, and the cottage and farmhouse are now a museum run by the National Trust showing what life was like back when Bewick was living there. There is also a fantastic collection of his engravings, printing equipment and publications. I definitely recommend a visit- especially on Thursdays when you can see first-hand the printing and engraving that goes on at Cherryburn!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sunday Snapshot- recognise this?

Spotted in the constituency this week- does anyone know where I am?

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Prudhoe Golf Club- The Home of Champions

I recently spent a thoroughly enjoyable morning playing golf with Paul Brookbanks, Dave Williams and Tom Hunter at Prudhoe Golf Club- "The Home of Champions". It's a very friendly club that welcomes everyone, of all ages and abilities. Green fees are also half price throughout August and September so give it a try!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Keep on Rolling- Broadband expands across Northumberland

Over the last seven years I have worked hard to bring broadband to as many areas of the Hexham constituency as possible and following on from iNorthumberland's commitment to invest a further £6.4m in Superfast Broadband as part of a partnership between Northumberland County Council and BT, I am delighted that after a series of recent upgrades, the following areas are now live for Superfast Broadband services-

  • Redburn and Bardon Mill 
  • Dilston, Corbridge 
  • Longbyre and Castle Terrace, Gilsland 
  • Melkridge 
  • Langley 
  • Oakwood 
  • Sandhoe 
  • Warden 
  • Gunnerton 
  • Wall
  • Colwell 
  • Allerwash, Newbrough
  • Ponteland 
  • Medburn 
  • Prestwick Village and Prestwick Park
  • Slaley Hall and surrounding areas 
  • Whitley Chapel
  • Juniper 
  • Matfen 
  • Netherton Park, Stannington 
  • New Ridley Village, Stocksfield 
  • Hedley on the Hill, Stocksfield
  • West Woodburn 
  • Horsley 

Great news as we continue to roll broadband out across the county.

Friday Focus... on Hexham

The heart of the constituency, there is always a lot to see and do in Hexham. With the weekend about to begin, here are some of the things you can do in Hexham this weekend.

Hexham Abbey stands proudly in the centre of the town. Dating back to 674 AD, the Abbey has many historic features including the 7th century Crypt and Dark Age Cross. There is also an interactive exhibition and visitor centre, making it a fantastic place to visit and explore. Hexham Farmers' Market is also nearby and takes place in the Marketplace twice a month. With a wide range of locally produced foods for sale, it is a wonderful celebration of Northumberland and its produce.

Another example of Hexham's long history, Hexham Old Gaol is the earliest recorded purpose-built prison in England, built in 1330-1333. Originally built to hold the Archbishop of York's prisoners, the Gaol is also a great place to explore Hexham's history and learn all about crime and punishment in the Middle Ages.

If you're looking for culture, Hexham's Queen's Hall Arts Centre has a fantastic programme of artists, music, dance, exhibitions, drama, film and comedy all year round, with facilities including a 350-seat theatre and two galleries. Meanwhile the community-owned Forum Cinema shows great newly released films for everyone to enjoy.

There are also some great sports activities on offer in Hexham. The Wentworth Leisure Centre has a great variety of activities including swimming, fitness classes, tenpin bowling, a soft play and an outdoor athletics track. It is also worth paying a visit to the Hexham Racecourse, the only racecourse in Northumberland.

Whatever your interests, and with a large variety of shops and cafes to suit every taste, there is always plenty to do in Hexham- give the town a visit this weekend!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Lighting The Fuse

I recently visited the state-of-the-art Fuse Media Centre in Prudhoe. The Fuse is a media production facility with integrated industry-standard television, radio and recording studios along with a 100-seat digital Community Cinema. It is also the base for Northumberland County Council's Learning and Skills Service and has rooms to rent, adult learning and classes and film screenings with a wide range of films. A brilliant facility so go along and see what the Fuse has to offer!

Volunteers Put Life Back into Prudhoe Cemetery

The Prudhoe Local History Society has been awarded Best New Project at the LOVE Northumberland awards for their restoration project of St Mary Magdalene Cemetery in Prudhoe. The group was recognised for its work to restore the site, which was closed in 1909 and had been left to become overgrown since the 1980s. Work started on the site in January, with help from the council, the church and grants from the Town Council and Land of Oak and Iron Project. Neighbourhood Services also offered mechanised help, however most work is done by hand. The site is now open to the public, allowing residents to visit the graves of relatives and discover some fascinating stories. The site is also now a flourishing place for wildlife, including birds, bats and deer. I recently met with Len Franchetti, Ed Graham, Ray Moore, Derek Tulip and Michael Foster to hear all about the great work they are doing, along with fellow members of the Society, Ann Blackburn and Gary Brown- it was fascinating to hear their enthusiasm about the project.

Congratulations to everyone on their fantastic work and very well deserved award!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust- CQC report

Last week the Care Quality Commission published their latest report of their findings at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. The CQC rated the trust's community mental health services for people with a learning disability Outstanding following an inspection in April, and the overall rating for the trust also remains Outstanding. Dr Paul Lelliott, the Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals and CQC lead for mental health said, "It is clear they are providing a safe, effective and caring service" and "we found that people's individual needs were central to every decision made". This is an outstanding reflection on Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and we can be rightly proud of the mental health services provided across North Tyneside and Northumberland.

Vindolanda- Britain's Top Treasure

The fantastic archeological site of Vindolanda, near Bardon Mill, is one of the most fascinating sites in Northumberland. Home to the Vindolanda writing tablets, one of the most incredible archeological discoveries in Britain, it is a brilliant place to explore and go back in time.

Vindolanda was a Roman fort which predates Hadrian's Wall. It guarded the road from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth, known as the Stanegate. Today Vindolanda is the most excavated site on the Roman Frontier and the Vindolanda tablets, available to view in the museum, provide an extraordinary insight into life at the Roman fort. Written on wooden tablets, the tablets are a collection of both military and private correspondence, and are truly fascinating.

Excavation continues at the site today, showing that there is still much more history to uncover at Vindolanda.

It's well worth a visit, with a museum housing shoes, textiles, coins and jewellery left behind by the Roman inhabitants, as well as a coffee shop and a museum shop. An incredible site full of history- I recommend a visit this summer!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Growing Success at Prudhoe Community Allotment!

I am very proud to be President of the Prudhoe Community Allotment at Redwell Court in Prudhoe. A fantastic facility for use by everyone of all gardening abilities, it is a great place to learn and share skills and techniques, while enjoying the friendly and peaceful environment. Beds and plots are available to rent, while members meet twice a week throughout the year to work on the upkeep of the site. The Allotment also sells plants and vegetables during the year. I am honoured to be involved with the Allotment- a great facility and a vital part of the community. They also have their Open Day on Wednesday- get along and see what's going on! 

Brilliant Businesses- Red Engineering

Northumberland's RED Engineering, formerly Red Marine, has recently been awarded a Queen's Award for Enterprise. The Queen's Awards are the UK's most prestigious business awards, and recognise outstanding achievements in the fields of Innovation, International Trade, Sustainable Development and Promoting Opportunity.

RED Engineering was founded in 2008 and provides expertise and solutions to support the delivery of complex engineering projects. Based in Hexham, the company is employee-owned and half of the staff are chartered engineers with a huge amount of knowledge and experience. RED Engineering provides a wide range of services, including consultancy, designing and building bespoke equipment, and competing test programmes.

Since the company was founded, they have delivered nearly 300 projects to customers all over the world, each project presenting its own unique challenges and objectives.

RED Engineering truly is a fantastic and unique company, and their Queen's Award is very well deserved.

Monday, 7 August 2017

The Holidays are Here! Here's what's on this week...

It looks like it's going to be another busy week in the constituency- here are five of the best events going on in the area this week...

Carts Bog Beer Festival, Friday 11th-Saturday 12th August, 6pm- Tickets are sale for the Carts Bog Beer Festival, with more than 30 real ales and ciders and over 100 whiskys, a hog roast, barbecue and live entertainment on both nights. Camping can be arranged in advance.

Slaley Show, Saturday 12th August- The fantastic Slaley Show is back for another year on Saturday. With a great variety of classes, including sheep, ponies and dogs, as well as birds of prey displays, food and craft stands and face-painting, it promises to be a brilliant day, so go along this Saturday and join in the fun!

Summer Food and Craft Fair, Saturday 12th-Sunday 13th August- Kirkharle Courtyard will be home to a fantastic food and craft fair this weekend. There will be a great range of stalls showcasing local goods, as well as face painting, a children's play area and a lakeside walk- it sounds great!

Charity Summer Fete, Sunday 13th August, 10am-4pm- Vallum Farm holds its annual Charity Summer Fete on Sunday in aid of Hexham Priory School and St Oswald's Hospice. There will be tractor rides, face painting, a bouncy castle, a tombola and much more, so make sure to go along on Saturday for a great day out in aid of some fantastic causes.

Hexham Art Club Summer Exhibition, all August, 10am-5pm- Pay a visit to the Hexham Art Club's Summer Exhibition at the Forge Studios in Allendale this month where around twenty artists of exhibiting over 50 works, including some of scenes from around Northumberland. It is a wonderful opportunity to see some brilliant art, whilst supporting the local community in Hexham!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Treasure Trove at Prudhoe's Emporium

It was great to meet Tracey and her family at the newly opened Emporium at 72 Front Street in Prudhoe. A large selection of locally produced gifts, craft workshops and a drop/collect dry cleaning service. Very best of luck to Tracey- please support her.

Sunday Snapshot- Where am I?

There's always something interesting to see when out knocking on doors- where am I this time?

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Charities and community groups- Apply now for your share of the Dream Fund

I would like to encourage charities and community groups across the constituency to apply for a share of the People's Postcode Lottery's Dream Fund, which aims to help charities bring their dream project to life. The Dream Fund encourages collaboration between charities and good causes, with funding offered over two years from 2018. This year's prize fund is the largest ever with a total award fund of £3 million. This is such an exciting opportunity and so I urge charities to apply before the deadline on 22nd August at

Acomb planning fiasco- My support for residents

Residents in Acomb are deeply unhappy about a development of 40 homes on land at Garden House Lane by Avant Homes, and I would like to make clear my support for them. Not only were 75 objections lodged by residents, but the development has now been changed so that homes are being built higher than was previously agreed in the approved plans so that the privacy of residents is being compromised as building work is above the height of their garden fences. I find it shocking that the residents of Acomb are not being listened to, and I have written to both Avant homes and the county council and I will be pressing Avant to reconsider the situation.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Highway Maintenance Challenge Fund- funding for Northumberland's roads

This week it was announced that Northumberland County Council has secured £5 million in funding from the government’s national Highway Maintenance Challenge Fund. The Council made a successful bid for a share of the funding, and the money, along with a further £1.5 million from the County Council itself, will be used to improve 24km of highway along three key routes in the more rural areas of Northumberland. Northumberland County Council also explained that they have chosen crucial routes for industry, tourism and residents to be improved through strengthening, resurfacing of potholes and drainage work. I know that the state of our roads is one of the most important issues for many constituents and so I welcome this announcement which will make a huge difference to Northumberland’s residents.   

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Rural Funding Boost

The government announced earlier this week that a £200 million fund will be made available to be invested in rural communities and businesses. Lord Gardiner revealed the plans while announcing the latest round of Rural Development Programme for England funding. The fund will be used to invest in rural businesses and broadband projects and to support farming and rural tourism, and it is expected that the programme will create more than 6000 new jobs, providing a fantastic boost to rural areas. As an MP for one of England's most rural constituencies, I welcome this great news, which will make a huge difference to our area. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Kielder Surgeries and Visits

On Monday I spent time at the Village Store and Post Office in Kielder chatting to Judy and a number of local residents on a wide range of subjects.  That was followed by a fantastic visit to the Kielder Bird of Prey Centre where I was made very welcome.  I watched a display and talked to the amazing Ray who looks after over 70 birds - including Pelicans - and does great work educating adults and children alike about these incredible birds.  I can’t recommend it highly enough as a great place to visit over the summer holidays - or indeed all year round as Christmas Day is the only day they close!  Kielder and the surrounding area is a very special place and it was great to meet so many people in the local community.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Fountain Cottage Cafe and Tearoom, Bellingham

As I begin my summer tour of the constituency, it's always a pleasure to drop in for coffee and cake at Fountain Cottage Cafe and Tearoom in Bellingham. I definitely recommend it!

Brilliant Businesses- The Boathouse, Wylam

Wylam's Boathouse is one of Northumberland's most popular pubs, and it's not hard to see why.

Famous for its fantastic selection of real ales and more than fifteen handpulls along the bar, making it a favourite of CAMRA, The Boathouse is a champion of Northern hostelries. With a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, it is a great place to go for a drink or a bite to eat, and its picturesque location by the side of the river in Wylam makes it perfect for walkers and cyclists looking for a place to have a break, especially since The Boathouse also offers accommodation. You can even get the train from Newcastle or the Tyne Valley right to the door!

This is the perfect time of year to enjoy The Boathouse's beer garden- a great place to take in the riverside view and enjoy the sun.

So whether you are a local or a walker exploring Northumberland for the first time, The Boathouse is definitely worth a visit this summer!