Saturday, 20 July 2019

Ranger School at The Sill!

The school holidays are here, and The Sill has a unique opportunity for 11-14 year olds this summer!

The Sill’s Ranger School is running from Tuesday 30th July- Friday 2nd August. Children will have the chance to work with Northumberland National Park Rangers on a variety of tasks, including conservation activities, mammal monitoring and navigation skills to find out what it takes to look after some of the UK’s most protected landscapes.

You can book a place at Ranger School now- if you book all four days an additional session on Monday 29th July is free!

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Net zero by 2050

Each and every one of us has a part to play in fighting climate change, so I am delighted to hear that one of the UK’s major energy suppliers, E.ON, is now providing its customers across Britain with a 100% renewable electricity supply at no extra cost.  

Last month the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. The target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, compared with the previous target of at least 80% reduction from 1990 levels. We have already reduced emissions by 42% but there is still work to be done, and it is great to see major energy suppliers like E.ON leading the way in achieving net zero emissions. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Falstone Open Gardens

This Sunday the village of Falstone is coming together to raise money for some great causes. Falstone Open Gardens is taking place on Sunday 21st July from 1.30-5pm. Entry is £5 with under 5s going free. Meanwhile at Falstone Village Hall there will also be afternoon tea, a plant stall, a raffle and a quiz.

The afternoon is set to raise money for Maggie's Cancer Care and the Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant Association, two causes which provide vital care for local people. A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon while raising money for a worthwhile cause.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Carnival Day in Haltwhistle

Today is Carnival Day in Haltwhistle, with the famous annual procession of floats departing Haltwhistle Fire Station at 12pm, led by the City of Newcastle Pipe Band. Meanwhile, there will be a ukulele band at the Market Place from noon, as well as live music from Diablo, a fancy dress competition, donkey rides, vintage vehicles, a fun fair, stalls, a beer tent, children's crafts and so much more!

The Haltwhistle Carnival is one of the highlights of the year in the town- don't miss out on the fun!

Friday, 12 July 2019

Support our fantastic local producers tomorrow!

Hexham's fantastic Farmers Market takes place tomorrow between 9:30am and 1:30pm. There are so many local producers, from the Northumberland Cheese Company based in Ponteland, to Muckle brewing based near Haltwhistle.

All producers come within a 50 mile range of Hexham and products use a high percentage of locally produced ingredients. The Hexham Farmers Market takes place every second and fourth Saturday of the month, with the next one taking place tomorrow. Make sure you pop down and support our fantastic local producers.

Find out more at

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Vote Northumberland!

Following last year's success at the British Travel Awards, where Northumberland was named 'Best UK Holiday Destination/County 2018', Northumberland is this year in the running to retain its title. We all know how lucky we are to live in such a stunning county, with castles, beaches, Hadrian's Wall and a National Park, and a second year of success at the British Travel Awards would give our region's tourism and economy a significant boost.

You can help Northumberland to retain its crown as the UK's best holiday destination/county by voting at

Monday, 8 July 2019

LOVE Northumberland

The LOVE Northumberland awards celebrate projects and initiatives which improve local areas and neighbourhoods for the benefit of the local community, and entries for the awards have now opened.

Entries can be made into a variety of categories; best children’s project, best young people’s project, best urban project, best coast or countryside project, best new project, best school recycling project, and an award for an outstanding individual. The awards will be presented by the Duchess of Northumberland at Alnwick Garden in September.

The closing date for entries is Friday 2nd August. To enter go to You can also email or phone o1670 622992. 

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Get designing for the Tour of Britain

The Tour of Britain is coming to Northumberland in September, and school children are being invited to take part in a competition to design a Northumberland-themed cycling jersey. A cycling jersey is a specially designed T-shirt which is made from synthetic material to keep the cyclist cool. The jersey might also include a design or colours which show which team the rider is a part of. The winning design will printed, framed and presented to the child’s school, and there are three age categories- Reception to Year 4, Year 5-8 and Year 9 onwards. A prize of £10,000 will be shared among the winning schools to be spent on sporting activities and school trips.   

The closing date for the competition is 15th July. For more information visit

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Fentimans- a company to inspire

I was delighted to hear that local Hexham business, Fentimans, has been included as one of the London Stock Exchange Group’s flagship ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ 2019. The publication profiles the 1000 most dynamic and fastest growing SMEs across the UK. 

SMEs are such an important part of our economy, driving jobs and growth. Fentimans is just one example of the many brilliant businesses we are proud to be home to in the Hexham constituency, and I hope that their inclusion on this list will generate much positive publicity for Fentimans. 

To whom does our life belong? I believe that the law on assisted dying needs to change.

Later today, the House of Commons will debate assisted dying. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend due to long-standing commitments in Hexham.

However - I am clear that we need to change the law in favour of assisted dying. It is right that this is an unwhipped free vote. Many MP colleagues have legitimate reasons to oppose, and it is a matter that will divide the House of Commons. If you want to know my views on free vote issues, from gay marriage to stem cell research click here.

Many people will remember Geraldine McClelland - the former BBC TV producer and a founding member of Newcastle's Live theatre. After an unsuccessful battle with cancer, Geraldine took her life at Dignitas in Switzerland. Before her death, she made the case for change by saying: “I am not sad that I will die today. I am angry that I can't die in the country I was born in, in my own home."

As her good friend Nick Ross, the former BBC 'Crimewatch' presenter said “Gerry had to abandon her home and be driven across Europe…to end her life in a light commercial estate in an impersonal Swiss suburb.”
The tragedy is that we effectively now have one law for the rich, and one for the poor. It cannot be right that those who need our support most, at the end of their lives, live in fear and uncertainty of how or where their last moments will be, and whether their loved ones will face prosecution after they are gone.

It seems to me manifestly wrong that individual members of the public do not have the choice and are prevented by law from doing something in this country that they are able to go and do legally at Dignitas in Switzerland. How can it be fair that wealth determines dignity in death? Where those rich enough are afforded a death in a manner they choose and yet those who are too poor to escape are locked in the system and have no rights over the ending of their own life?

Fundamentally, the heart of this debate centres on one question: to whom does a person's life belong. I suggest that a person's life belongs to the individual themselves. It should be for those who are not as lucky as I was to make their choices about how they live, and if required, how they end their own lives. This is a transfer of power from the state to the individual, who is then free to choose, subject to very strict safeguards.

Every patient has the right to life, but they also have the right to personal autonomy and dignity. When a patient’s condition has no cure, and death is a certainty, there must be a point where the individual has a right to end their own suffering.

One of the central arguments against assisted dying is that it would lead to a slippery slope.

However, assisted dying will not lead to more deaths, but to less suffering. Safeguards are essential and nobody disagrees with that. Those that argue safeguards do not work, or that it is not possible, should look to Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. In place for 17 years, it enables someone who is terminally ill to request the option of an assisted death. There has been no evidence of abuse since its inception. Further to that, around 40% of dying people who meet the strict safeguards to obtain life-ending medication never use it, simply taking comfort from having the option.

This topic is personal to me. During the Budget debate in 2011, I collapsed in the Central Lobby of the House of Commons. It was not George Osborne's Budget that made me ill, but a tumour the size of a small fist in the left part of my brain. I was rushed to St Thomas's hospital in central London where an A&E doctor advised me that I required a craniotomy to remove the meningioma from my brain.

It was an extremely frighting experience. I was advised to the likelihood of death, paralysis, loss of speech, and so much more. I was one of the lucky ones who survived with few scars. However, many of my fellow patients who I met during my treatment were not so lucky. To deny a dignified death to those who are suffering during the last weeks of their life seems manifestly unfair to me.

I have no doubt that eventually the law will change in the UK - as it is changing elsewhere. I vividly remember walking through the voting lobby in the House of Commons with Ed Miliband, discussing how it requires leaders of medics, churches and our communities to see things differently.

Watch my speech from the House of Commons in 2012

I come back to a simple issue which, I suggest, is at the heart of the entire debate over assisted dying: to whom does a person’s life belong? I suggest that a person’s life belongs to the individual themselves. It is for those who are not as lucky as I was to make their choices about how they live their lives. That somebody cannot take those choices does not mean that MP's in Parliament should deny them of any choice. It upsets me tremendously that the state prescribes that it knows best. It cannot be right that individual members of the public are prevented from doing something in this country that they are able to go and do at Dignitas in Switzerland, where they can die in the manner of their choosing.

UPDATE: The debate in the House of Commons has now taken place. You can read a transcript of everything that was spoken here, and watch the debate in here.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Support our small businesses

Small businesses are at the heart of our local communities, and with campaigns such as ‘Independents Day’ taking place this 4th July, there has never been a better time to get out and support the small, independent businesses in your local area. 

Independent businesses account for around 65% of the approximately 290,000 retail outlets in the UK. Research shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium sized business, 63p is re-spent in the local area compared with 40p in every £1 spent with a larger business. Supporting local businesses helps job creation and job retention and retains diversity, choice and character in local communities, so please do continue to support our fantastic small businesses.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Brocksbushes Summer Fayre

It's never to early to start making plans for the weekend! The Brocksbushes Summer Fayre takes place this weekend (Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th July)- entry and parking is free. As well as gifts, crafts and children's activities, the Fayre will also give you the chance to taste and buy delicious food products and delicacies. It sounds like a perfect way to spend a weekend!

Friday, 28 June 2019

The Corbridge Festival gets underway

The Corbridge Festival has been held every year since 2011, and they have certainly picked the perfect weekend for it this year! 28th and 29th June is the Corbridge Festival, with an amazing music line up over three stages. There is also a children's zone, as well as music, stalls and camping.

It's going to be a glorious weekend, so make sure you don't miss out!

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Legislation passed as UK goes #NetZero to combat Climate Change

The Climate Emergency is one of the biggest challenges facing our nation. We have done a lot, and I am proud of the role that the Coalition and Conservative Governments have played. 

Since 2010, Britain has reduced carbon emissions by 25%. This is by far the best rate of reduction among G20 countries who managed to reduce their overall emissions. Coal is being rapidly phased out, and by 2025 all of our remaining coal fired plants will be closed. 

Fossil fuels are on track to produce less than half the UK's electricity for the very first time. Last year, renewables generated 37.1% of Britain's electricity, up from 6.1% in 2010. 

But there is always more we can do. 

That is why yesterday was a historic day in Parliament. As a country, we have now legislated to ensure Britain's contribution to climate change will end by 2050, so that we have #NetZero carbon emissions. 

Tomorrow, I am looking forward to welcoming constituents from across my constituency to Parliament for an in-depth discussion as part of 'The Time is Now' mass lobby. 

As the Minister for Pensions, I have passed legislation to ensure that our occupational pensions can play their part in helping to tackle our Climate Emergency. For too long, too many of our pension company trustees have considered the environmental practices of the firms they invest in to be purely ethical concerns that they need not worry about. That is wrong. Under new Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance [ESG] legislation, trustees must now consider the environmental practices of firms when they set out their investment strategies.

Click here to read my recent article in The Times to find out more.

If you want to read in more detail what the governments past and present have done to tackle climate change, click here. 

Tackling the Climate Emergency is something I take extremely seriously. Because if we don't address these long-term issues now, there won't be a long term. We need a cleaner, greener future that is increasingly powered by renewable energy.

To achieve this, we all must play our part - from government, down to the actions we take as individuals - and I hope you'll join me in helping to tackle our climate emergency.

Update: Here I am with just some of my constituents who I met in Westminster on Wednesday to discuss tackling the Climate Emergency. 

Walking for health in Ponteland

A new scheme in Ponteland is seeing local residents put on their walking boots for a series of weekly short walks. The West Northumberland Health Walks take place every Tuesday, starting at Ponteland Leisure Centre at 10.30am. The walks are short and all on easy terrain- led by trained volunteers, each walk lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. A great way to take regular exercise and improve your health whilst making new friends- why not get involved?!

To find out more, contact Lorraine Oliver at or 01670 622368, or Gordon Allan on 07936 135469. 

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Eals Bridge is back to its best

I recently went along to see the work which has been done to restore the 300-year-old Eals Bridge near Knarsdale, after it was badly damaged by Storm Desmond in 2015/16. The storm caused structural damage to the bridge, as well as millions of pounds worth of damage to local homes and infrastructure. Northumberland County Council’s repair programme, which was partly funded by the Department for Transport, allocated £14.6m to repair damage around the county, and it was great to be able to see the completed work to Eals Bridge which provides a vital link between some of our most remote communities. 

Thursday, 20 June 2019

The National Lottery is funding success in the Hexham Constituency

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the National Lottery, and in the past three months The National Lottery Community Fund has awarded an incredible total of £130,097 to six local community projects in the Hexham Constituency. 

The National Lottery Community Fund aims to fund great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. The funding is used to do extraordinary things that will improve lives and communities. Funding is open to everyone, so if you are involved with a project in your local community then I would definitely encourage you to think about applying for funding by following the link below. 

Monday, 17 June 2019

Busy weekend ahead in Bywell

This Saturday (22nd June) Bywell will be the place to be, with the Bywell Castle Food Fair taking place from 12pm-6pm. Over 20 producers and vendors will gather in the stunning Castle grounds to showcase their products. Entry is free.

Then on Sunday (23rd June) the castle gardens will once again be open, this time for the British Red Cross' Open Gardens Scheme. Meanwhile, the Bywell Arts Festival is set to take place at St Peter's and St Andrew's Churches over the whole weekend (Friday to Sunday).

What a weekend it looks set to be in Bywell!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Stop, Report, Talk

10th-23rd June is the National Scams Awareness campaign, and this year’s theme is ‘Stop, Report, Talk’. The campaign brings Consumer Protection Partners together to take a united stand against scams by working with national and local organisations, including Citizens Advice, Trading Standards and the Police. 

Campaigns like National Scams Awareness are so important to help raise awareness, educate and protect people from falling victim to scams, particularly the most vulnerable in our society who are seen as easy targets. I would like to encourage victims to speak up and ensure that these crimes are reported so that perpetrators can be brought to justice and we can help to prevent other people falling victim in the future.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Hexham's Hidden Gardens

This weekend ten of Hexham's hidden gardens are being opened up to the public to raise money for the Hexham Community Partnership. The gardens will be open on Sunday 16th June from 1.30pm-6pm- entry to all ten gardens is £5, with under 16s free. The gardens will also feature live music, raffle prizes, tea, cakes and garden advice.

You can get your tickets and a map of the gardens from Cogito Books in Hexham, or on the day at either of the starter gardens- Bridge House, Shaftoe Leazes or Queen Elizabeth High School Walled Garden.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Final chance to join the Haydon Hundred!

Attention all cyclists- today is your last chance to enter the Haydon Hundred on Saturday! The Haydon Hundred cycling race includes three routes- 60km, 100km and 140km. The event starts and finished in Haydon Bridge and all entrants will be given a voucher to spend on refreshments in the village's shops and pubs, as well as at the famous Haydon Hundred 'Hog Roast'. There aren't many places left so if you would like to take part you need to act fast!

Monday, 10 June 2019

The Tour of Britain comes to the North East- and they want schools to get involved!

This September the North of Tyne Authority (Northumberland County Council, North Tyneside Council and Newcastle City Council) has the very exciting honour of hosting a stage of 'The Tour of Britain'. This stage of the race will take cyclists through the beautiful Northumberland countryside and right into Newcastle city centre. The Authority is keen to get local schools involved, both as spectators and to participate in activities to support long-term cycling development in the region.

Schools can download a schools pack from the link below to register their interest in getting involved with our region's stage of 'The Tour of Britain'. The deadline for responding is 28th June. It really is an opportunity not to be missed!

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Cheers to the Tynedale Beer and Cider Festival

It's one of the North East's biggest beer and cider festivals, and next week the Tynedale Beer and Cider Festival returns for another year. Over three days (Thursday 13th- Saturday 15th June), Tynedale Park in Corbridge will be home to some of the best beers and cider that the region and the UK have to offer, as well as wine, street food and live music. The festival is held by Tynedale Lions Club and Tyndale Rugby Football Club, and the money raised goes towards good causes.

You can buy your tickets for the festival now by visiting the link below-

Friday, 7 June 2019

Saturday at the Market

The brilliant Hexham Farmers' Market is back tomorrow (Saturday 8th June) with a huge range of stalls from local producers. From 9am-1.30pm the famous Market Place will be home to twenty stalls selling a variety of locally produced products, as well as a demonstration hive from Northumberland Honey and music from the Tarset Song Revivers Community Choir. The Market is held twice per month and is a great opportunity to speak to and buy from some of the amazing farmers and producers we have in Northumberland. Don't miss it!

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Start your summer at the Corbridge Festival

The Corbridge Festival was first held in 2011 and since then it has become a real highlight of the summer in Northumberland. This year’s Festival takes place on 28th and 29th June with an amazing music line up over three stages. There will also be a children’s zone, fairground, music, stalls and more, as well as camping so that you can make a real weekend of it.

Tickets for the Festival are on sale now, so make sure to get yours before it’s too late! You can buy your tickets and find our more here:  

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Hexhamshire Garden Trail 2019

Hexham's summer events are well and truly underway now and here is a new date for your diary- the always popular Hexhamshire Garden Trail will be taking place on Sunday 23rd June. From 11am-5.30pm fifteen stunning gardens will be open to visitors all in aid of St Helen's Church. The gardens are all incredibly different but for keen gardeners this is a great opportunity to see what can be done with all sorts of terrain and soil. There will also be plant stalls and tea and cake on offer. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday.

More information about the gardens involved is available by following the link below-

Monday, 3 June 2019

Summer at Charlotte Straker House

The brilliant Charlotte Straker Summer Fete returns this weekend (Saturday 8th June). From 2pm there will be stalls, a tombola, children's games and cream teas and ice creams from local charities and organisations. There will even be music and dancing! The Fete takes place at Charlotte Straker House, Corbridge- it looks set to be a great afternoon.

If you have any unwanted items, second hand books, plants or home made cakes then please do donate them to the stalls at the fete. You can leave items at the Charlotte Straker office any time before Saturday.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Prudhoe Allotment- plant sale today!

The Prudhoe Community Allotment is a fantastic community facility that welcomes people of all gardening abilities, and today from 10am-1pm the Allotment is holding a plant and basket sale. This is not only a chance to buy, but also a great opportunity to find out about all the brilliant things that are going on all year round at the Allotment. It's such a friendly place in the heart of Prudhoe, so I encourage you to go along and find out how you can get involved too.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

SmallBiz100- apply now!

The SmallBiz 100 is back for another year! Applications open this Saturday 1st June for businesses to  be in with the chance of becoming one of the 100 businesses that will form the Small Business Saturday campaign this year. The campaign will celebrate one business a day in the 100 days running up to Small Business Saturday on 7th December.

It is free to apply for this money-can't-buy opportunity for PR, events, networking and support. I really do encourage our brilliant local small businesses to apply- you might be one of this year's 100!

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Celebrating the Great British High Street

High Streets are integral to communities all over the country, and last week the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government launched the Great British High Street Awards 2019. High Streets across the UK would not be what they are without dedicated local people and small businesses, and the awards are a chance for us to celebrate and showcase the great work of individuals, community groups and business leaders across our constituency.

There are two categories- Champion High Street which recognises the nation’s best high streets, and the Rising Star category recognising the nation’s most ambitious high streets. Entries are now open and will close in the first week of July. Entrants are in with the chance to win up to £15,000 to spend on their community, so for more information about how you can get involved, visit here: 

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Northumberland Day 2019

Today is Northumberland Day and it is great to see so many Northumberland flags flying around the constituency to celebrate our great County. Northumberland Day is an initiative launched by Langley Castle Hotel and Restaurant and the very first Northumberland Day took place back in 2017. Each year the event is getting bigger and better, and it has been fantastic to see people getting behind the day in local communities. This week I visited Heddon-on-the-Wall and really enjoyed reading the messages written on their Northumberland flag where people had written their favourite things about Northumberland.

Events are taking place around the county today to mark Northumberland Day. However you spend your day, I would encourage you to keep supporting and celebrating Northumberland not just today, but all year round.

Find out more at

Friday, 24 May 2019

The parcel postbox comes to Hexham

For the first time in its 160 year history the Royal Mail has introduced a change to the way we use postboxes. Parcel postboxes will allow small businesses and marketplace sellers to post pre-paid parcels through postboxes in the same way they currently post letters. The postboxes will be secure, making it safe and convenient for businesses to use. Haugh Lane Industrial Estate in Hexham will be one of the first places in the country to have a parcel postbox, which is great news for businesses in the town.

Parcel postboxes are a great initiative, and I have no doubt that the new Hexham postbox will be a real benefit to our local small businesses.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The Northumberland County Show is just around the corner!

There is now less than one week to go until the 2019 Northumberland County Show- Monday 27th May at Bywell Hall will see a jam-packed day of stands, events and exhibitors in what is always a brilliant day out for all the family. I always enjoy my visits to the County Show and have no doubt that this year's will be another great day- let's hope the weather doesn't disappoint!

Parking is free, but make sure to buy your tickets either on the day or online in advance to beat the queues. To buy your tickets or to find out more about the programme for this year's event visit here-

Monday, 20 May 2019

A Midsummer's Evening- 1 month to go

There is just one month to go until Corbridge's Midsummer's Evening. This is always one of the highlights of the year in the town- markets, street food, music, dance, late night shopping and a flower festival at the church combine to make it a great evening of shopping and entertainment. 

Parking is free at the Tynedale Rugby Club, with a shuttle bus from the rugby club and the station. A Midsummer's Evening takes place on Thursday 20th June from 4pm- let's hope the weather delivers for us!

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Jump for Joy!

Enjoy an afternoon in St Oswin's Church Grounds, Wylam, raising money for the Wylam and District Churches Youth Project. With stalls, barbecue, afternoon tea and the famous teddy parachute jumps- it's going to be a great afternoon!

Friday, 17 May 2019

Countdown to Northumberland Day 2019

Northumberland Day 2019 is just around the corner (26th May) and events will be taking place all over the county to celebrate. Anyone can take part and hold an event- whether you are a business, school or member of the community you can get involved. Why not decorate your home in the red and yellow colours of Northumberland, hold a Northumberland-themed activity at your school or go along to one of the many events being held across Northumberland? 

The link below contains more information about Northumberland Day 2019 and the events going on near you. Make sure to have a look and find out how you can get involved!

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

First open weekend of 2019 at Cheeseburn

This weekend sees the first of Cheeseburn Sculpture's open weekends in 2019. On Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th May you are invited to visit Cheeseburn and have a first look at some of the brilliant installations that are set to be unveiled this weekend. These include Brigitte Jurack's 'Scavengers' and Clare Townley's 'Nostalgie de la boue: Plastic Friend'. Clare was last year's winner of the Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor of the Year. There will also be a pop-up shop from Handmade Tyneside in attendance at the open weekend. Cheeseburn's installations are always of the highest standard- I encourage you to go along this weekend and see what 2019 has in store!

Monday, 13 May 2019

Great opportunity for local schools!

Local schools have the chance to win £20, 000 with Asda's Plastic Investigators Club poster competition. Primary schools are invited to design a poster that spreads awareness of plastic waste and what can be done to help solve it. The winning pupil's school will receive £20,000 and a £1000 Asda Gift Card for the winning pupil, while second place will receive £10,000 and the third placed school will win £5000. It's a great opportunity for schools and the competition tackles a very important subject- to find out more about how your school can take part visit here:

Saturday, 11 May 2019

A busy Saturday ahead in Hexham

Hexham is the place to be this morning, with plenty of events taking place around the town. From 9am-1pm Hexham Abbey are holding a Book Sale and a Plant Sale, with money raised going towards funding for the Abbey. Saturday is also Hexham Farmers' Market day, and producers will be coming from all over Northumberland to sell locally grown and produced products. This year the Hexham Farmers' Market is celebrating its 20th year and over the years it has become a much-loved event in the Hexham community. If you've never visited the Market before, then today is the perfect time to go along!

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Prudhoe Poppets

I stopped by to meet the Prudhoe Poppets team the other day to see the group's new collection of sensory toys purchased with funds received following a successful funding application. Prudhoe Poppets is a play and creative session held every Friday at the East Centre in Prudhoe from 10.30am-12.30pm. The session is run by local volunteers for the benefit of the local community, and has both indoor and outdoor spaces for children to play in. The session also welcomes children with additional needs and disabilities- it really is a brilliant facility for all!

More volunteers are always welcome, particularly to help out with putting out toys and serving drinks every Friday. To find out more about how you can get involved, visit here:

Monday, 6 May 2019

100 years of the Kielder Forestry Commission

Kielder is celebrating 100 years of the Forestry Commission at Kielder, and on Friday past and present staff and the local community are invited to a gathering at Kielder Castle to celebrate and share memories of forestry in Kielder and the people who have worked in the industry. There will be live music, a barbecue and a bar to enjoy- entry is free but there will be a charge for food and drinks.

The gathering takes place on Friday 10th May from 7pm-10pm at Kielder Castle. It's hard to imagine Kielder without the Forestry Commission- what a great way to celebrate its first 100 years!

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Great Northumberland 2019- apply for funding now

Earlier this week the Northumberland Cultural Fund opened for applications for event organisers in the county to secure funding to deliver new events this summer. The fund aims to give organisers the support to develop their new events to create a busy summer in Northumberland. Small project and event organisers can bid for a share of the £100,000 fund. The Northumberland Cultural Fund was created following last year's Great Northumberland programme, and any events receiving funding will become part of Great Northumberland 2019.

The deadline for applications is Monday 13th May at 5pm. You can find application forms and more information about submissions here:

Friday, 3 May 2019

Tynedale Hospice at Home's award-winning filmmakers!

Congratulations to Tynedale Hospice at Home! The charity produced a film, 'Grief as a Teenager', alongside six young people who have all lost a parent, and the film was recently awarded bronze in the Long Form category at the Charity Film Awards ceremony in London. The film was created with the aim of bringing comfort to other young people who have been bereaved of a parent. It is now being used in one to one group support for young people experiencing bereavement.

This is a fantastic achievement by everyone involved in the project. Tynedale Hospice at Home does such brilliant work in our communities and provides a valuable service to those suffering from life limiting illnesses. It is great to see to see such a successful example of how film and art can be used to help those experiencing bereavement.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

It’s Election Day - please make sure you vote today!

The North of Tyne Mayoral election is today.  This Courant article explains what we are facing and I fully support Humshaugh resident and local businessman Charlie Hoult. Across Newcastle and North Tyneside we also have local election which really matter. 

Whatever your views make sure you vote!

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Great Northumberland- there’s so much going on!

There is never any shortage of fantastic events in and around Northumberland, and now there is a place where you can find out about everything that is going on in our local area. The Great Northumberland website was set up by Northumberland County Council last year, and now event organisers can promote their event for free on the website. All you have to do is visit the website below and fill out a form giving all the information about your event.

Whether you are promoting an event or just want to find out what is going on near you, the Great Northumberland website is a great place to go to keep up to date with local events. The calendar for the next month alone is full of events to suit all interests, so make sure to have a look so you don’t miss out!

Sunday, 28 April 2019

The Hexham Book Festival gets underway

The next chapter of the Hexham Book Festival got underway this weekend, but with more than a week still to go of literary events now is the perfect time to look at this year's programme to find the events for you! Writers including Michael Rosen, Kate Humble, Prue Leith and Benjamin Zephaniah are still to speak at events as part of the Festival, along with many, many more writers from a huge range of genres.

Tickets for the events can be booked from the Queen's Hall Box Office by calling 01434 652477 or online at is still time to book your tickets so make sure not to miss out!

Friday, 26 April 2019

Get your child vaccinated!

Yesterday I read the story of baby Alba, who was became seriously ill with measles last year just weeks before she was due to be vaccinated. The BBC report highlighted what the NHS has described as a ‘growing public health time bomb’- the increasing number of people who are rejecting vaccines. UNICEF says that more than half a million children in the UK missed out on the MMR vaccine between 2010 and 2017, and there has been a 300% increase on measles cases worldwide compared to last year. Thankfully Alba is now over the worst of her illlness, but these frightening statistics really do highlight the importance of getting your child vaccinated as soon as they are able to receive the MMR vaccine- babies usually receive their first dose around their first birthday and the second at three to four years old. Measles is an extremely infectious illness that can lead to serious health consequences, including lung and brain infections. The vaccine really is so important- please find out more about how you can protect your child below:

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Show your support for Northumberland Day

Northumberland Day celebrates the very best of our brilliant county, and the event’s organisers are asking for your support. This year’s Northumberland Day takes place on 26th May, and businesses have the opportunity to sponsor the day, which includes Langley Castle and Northumberland County Show as its sponsors. Meanwhile you can get involved and show your pride for Northumberland by flying the county flag and decorating your windows, homes and gardens with the red and yellow colours of Northumberland. 

Northumberland Day provides a wonderful boost to the economy and tourism in our local communities. If you or your business have plans to hold a Northumberland Day event, get in touch with the organisers and get your event details on the website, which can be visited here:

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The return of the Hexham Spring Festival

This weekend (Saturday 27th April, 9am-4.30pm) the 2019 Hexham Spring Festival is taking place in the Hexham Abbey Grounds. With market stalls selling food, arts, crafts and gifts, as well as live music from local choirs and bands at the Victorian bandstand, the Festival will be a wonderful day out for all the family. This year there will also be the chance to try out bushcraft skills, Go Karting or even an alpaca trek! The Festival is highlighting the campaign to 'Back British Farming' and there will be visiting farm animals and hands-on farming activities as well- a very important cause in our rural constituency.

The Hexham Spring Festival is always a fantastic event in the town- find out more here:

Sunday, 21 April 2019

An Easter weekend in the countryside

We have been incredibly lucky to have been able to enjoy such glorious weather over this Easter bank holiday weekend. Over the last two weeks Northumberland National Park Authority and National Parks UK have been marking Discover National Parks Fortnight, a celebration of our landscapes to encourage people to get outside. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act which paved the way for the establishment of National Parks, and with the stunning Northumberland National Park right on our doorsteps, what better time to make the most of the beautiful weather and get outside in our wonderful countryside.

Spending time in the outdoors has so many beneficial effects to our health and wellbeing. As the summer months approach, why not consider making the most of the incredible National Park we have in the Hexham constituency and spend some time exploring our beautiful countryside- I promise you won't regret it!

Saturday, 20 April 2019

It's official- Allendale is one of the best places to live in the UK

It's official! Allendale has been named as one of the best places to live in the country by The Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide. The village was praised for its local clubs and festivals, pubs and beautiful countryside to be chosen as one of 101 locations across the UK to make up the list.

We all know that there aren't many better places to live than Northumberland, and it is fantastic to see one of our amazing local villages recognised on a national level.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Essity's outstanding apprentices

Essity's Prudhoe Mill is one of our largest local employers and has a brilliant apprenticeship scheme. It is great to hear that they will be doubling their apprentice intake to twenty, with ten young engineers being given permanent positions after achieving outstanding results in their final exams. I am a great admirer of Essity's work with apprentices and am delighted that the hard work of both the company and their apprentices is paying off. Congratulations to all!

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The countdown to the Northumberland County Show

It's that time of year again! The Northumberland County Show is just around the corner- Monday 27th May at Bywell Hall will see a jam-packed day of stands, events and exhibitors in what is always a fantastic celebration of Northumberland. This year's programme of events looks to be better than ever, with something to entertain everyone in the family. I always enjoy my visits to the County Show and have no doubt that this year's will be another great day.

Parking for the County Show is free, but do make sure to buy your tickets either on the day or online in advance to beat the queues. To buy your tickets or to find out more about the programme for this year's event visit here- 

Monday, 15 April 2019

My opposition to open cast coal mining at Dewley Hill

L-R: Jos Forester-Melville, Eileen Killen, and my constituent Helen Crowe at Dewley Hill 

I cannot support plans for a new open cast coal mine on our green belt land at Dewley Hill between Ponteland and Heddon. Details of my engagement with the local community and my letter to Newcastle City Council are set out below.

In the many years I have done this job as a candidate, and then as the MP, there have been 2 previous applications for local open cast mines in the Hexham Constituency. I was very involved in opposing both the application at Halton Lea Gate in the west, and Whitonstall more recently.

At Halton Lea Gate, myself and Councillor Ian Hutchinson have been working with the local community since 2008:
You can read my old blog post on this here and the article in relation to the second application in The Journal here

The open cast proposal at Whittonstall went to a public meeting at Snods Edge Village Hall before being rejected by the Northumberland County Council: You can read my blog post on this here and the subsequent article in The Journal here

For an overview of open cast mining locally, my wider views on this, and the need for companies to engage locally, and the planning process generally on open cast (find out more by clicking here). 

The Dewley Hill site really matters. It is on the greenbelt border between Newcastle and Northumberland. This is green belt that we have fought long and hard to protect over many years: whether that is the titanic struggle against Lugano at Birney Hill next to Dewley Hill, or at Clickenim Farm.

I recently met with members of the Defend Dewley Hill Action Group to discuss their planning, environmental and infrastructure concerns. They are rightly concerned that this is the wrong approach when we are doing so much as a country to tackle Climate Change. You can watch my video with local campaigner Helen Crowe below:

The site - adjacent to the B6323, and the A69 - and literally down the hill from the Birney Hill site, is currently green belt / green field land. The National Planning Policy Framework, the legislation which controls planning permits, says that only in very special circumstances can green belt be built on, or opencast coal extraction accepted.

If the opencast coal mine was to go ahead, it would be up to 67 meters deep, covering 50 hectares. It would lead to up to three years of coal mining, and see more than 100 lorries in and out of the site each day between 7am and 10pm to extract 800,000 tonnes of coal. Such an application has consequences on the local community.

The UK leads the world in tackling Climate Change, and the days of coal are numbered. Rather than new opencast mining of fossil fuels on the greenbelt, we need a cleaner, greener future increasingly powered by renewable energy.

It should also be noted that two previous planning applications at the site were rejected; one in 1994, and another in 1999.

I have written to Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, to voice my concerns and ask the Council to block this proposal. You can read a copy of my letter below:

As a country the UK has cut emissions by 40% since 1990, and we remain firmly on track to meet the target set by the Climate Change Act of 2008, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. Ultimately, however, the goal remains net zero carbon emissions.

In the Spring Statement last month, the government announced a series of measures to help tackle Climate Change. Most notably, a plan to stop fossil-fuel heating systems such as gas boilers being built in new houses from 2025. This is part of plans to cut the use of fossil fuels, with plans for the UK's remaining coal fired power stations to be shut by 2025.

If you want to find out more on what the government is doing to combat and address climate change and how the UK is leading the way, and more details of my approach go here:

For my part, I do not want to see a new opencast mine casting a shadow on our local communities and taking away the green belt between urban Newcastle and the Northumberland border at Ponteland. This would be bad planning policy, bad for our local environment, and the wrong approach to Climate Change.

If you object, as I do, have your say by April 20th (That's this Friday!) by clicking here. 

I accept some constituents are in favour. If they are in favour and want to have their say, then they should also make their views known. Newcastle City Council will consider the application in due course.   

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Hexham Book Festival- get your tickets now!

The Hexham Book Festival is back for another year, and 2019 looks set to be the best yet. The Festival is taking place from 26th April-5th May, and with an incredibly impressive lineup including Luke Jennings, Prue Leith, Kate Humble and Benjamin Zephaniah, it promises to be a brilliant week for literary fans of all genres.

Tickets for the events can be booked from the Queen's Hall Box Office by calling 01434 652477 or online at I really would encourage you to look at the programme below and get your tickets for the events that interest you!

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Free school transport proving popular with local students

I am delighted to hear that nearly 900 students in Northumberland have been using the free post-16 transport since the start of the school year, following Northumberland County Council's decision to remove £600 a year charges introduced by the former Labour administration. This is a significant increase on those using school bus services provided by the county council in the last academic year. Under the policy Northumberland residents are provided with free transport to travel to a full-time course at their nearest provider.

It is absolutely right that local students should receive free transport and I am so pleased that Northumberland County Council's decision to scrap the charges has had such a positive effect.

Find out more about the free post-16 transport service here:

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Intergenerational success!

I wanted to share with you a wonderful story featured in this week's Hexham Courant. Year 4 children at the Sele First School in Hexham have been receiving training in dementia as part of the Intergenerational Project launched by the Chrysalis dementia support group in Hexham. The project is based on the idea that young children and older people can be beneficial to each other, and the pupils have been working together with local members of the project to carry out gardening at Hexham's Adapt Enterprise Hub, planting everything from flowers to herbs. The supplies were kindly provided by Tom Martin at Wylam Nurseries.

This sounds like a brilliant project and everyone involved seems to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Well done to everyone at the Sele and the Intergenerational Project- it is always great to hear about local people coming together to achieve such positive outcomes!

You can read more about the project here-