Saturday, 21 June 2014

Report of Hotspur Awards at the Northumbrian Assocation Annual Dinner in the House of Commons

Every year Northumbria Water host a dinner for the Northumbrian Association in the House of Commons. It is a special event attended by many people from different walks of life in the North East [on Wednesday I sat between North Durham Labour MP in Kevan Jones, my local Northumbria Water troubleshooter, Kevin McGuire of the Mirror, an NHS chief and a one of the leaders of Northumbria University]. It is always an interesting evening.

The Association has many purposes but, as Keith Bartlett made clear, "without the campaigning of the Northumbrian Association we would not have had the Lindisfarne Gospels in  Durham last year".
Many people spoke and old friends were remembered, notably John Danby. We opened with words from our sponsor and supporter, Heidi Mottram of Northumbria Water, who set out what her company is trying to do - outlining that that NW had been made Utility of the Year and won a Queens Award for Sustainability. I used the evening to discuss Tynedale flooding and NW reaction to it locally - I know they are trying very hard and investing heavily to increase resilience.

Then we heard from Keith Bartlett, who told the tale of last year's successful visit of the Gospels. His passion and excitement for the Gospels impact was obvious to everyone present and the campaign is now on to get the Gospels back in 2020, and possibly for good day. Certain stats stuck out from his talk - such that the Gospels had 100,000 visitors from at least 58 countries, that 70% of all visitors stayed on for a meal and shopping in the town, an £8 million impact on the local economy and a 99.7% satisfaction rating from attendees [anything more would have been North Korean!].

Judith and Marion and others then spoke of the next campaigns for the Northumbrian Association before John Mowbray and Johnathan Blackie made the case that "culture gives us a sense of who we are and where we are from": they could have been speaking from the Adonis report as they stressed that we need to retain our graduates in the north east post university, both to build on our culture, but also to create the future jobs and businesses. Then Margaret Fay [aka the Queen Mother of the North East] awarded the Hotspur Awards to Ray Spencer and the British Army in the North East - an award jointly accepted very movingly by James Percy and James Ramsbotham. Finally, a memorable evening was rounded off by John  Mowbray's epic "poem" that made the case for the Lindisfarne Gospels returning back to the North East for good. That is a goal worth striving for.
More details of the Northumbrian Association here: