Monday, 31 July 2017

What's on in Hexham... 31 July- 6 August

There's always lots going on in the constituency- here are a few examples of exciting events happening nearby this week...

Hands on History- Archeology Detectives, Chesters Roman Fort, Saturday 29th July- Friday 4th August- a chance to uncover history with a sand pit dig at Chesters Roman Fort. There will also be plenty of activities to keep everyone busy- it should be great fun!

Corbridge Chamber Music Festival, St Andrews Church, Corbridge, Friday 4th- Sunday 6th August- with performances by the Gould Piano Trio, music to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, and celebrated composer Mark Simpson featured as a composer, it is definitely worth getting a ticket for this weekend's festival!

Medieval life, Ayden Castle, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August- go back in time and experience Medieval life at Ayden Castle this weekend. It will make a great day out for all the family!

Gilsland Agricultural Show, Sunday 6th August- celebrate farming and rural life at the Gilsland Agricultural Show this weekend. With sheep, dog, baking and photography classes, vintage vehicles and children's activities, it will be a fantastic day so make sure to go and support Northumberland's farming community!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Sunday Snapshot

Wylam War Memorial in memory of members of the local community who lost their lives during the First World War. Monday marks the start of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele which lasted more than three months, and in which more than 200,000 British soldiers were killed. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Bradbury Court care home

I was delighted to be invited to visit Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Bradbury Court assisted living unit in Ponteland this week where I was able to meet residents and staff. It was good to see the welcoming, homely atmosphere and high-quality care and support for myself, and I was very interested to see first-hand how staff support the residents at Bradbury Court.  The residents raised a number of matters with me, and thanks are due to Lisa for letting me visit her beautifully decorated flat.  Leonard Cheshire Disability supports more than 30,000 disabled people around the world to fulfill their potential and over the past year the charity has supported more than 10,000 disabled people in the UK. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Leonard Cheshire's birth. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

Friday Focus... on Blanchland

The latest in my series focusing on towns and villages in the constituency…

Blanchland is one of the most picturesque villages in Northumberland, set in the Derwent Valley on the County Durham border, in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Blanchland gets its name from the French canons who lived and worked in Blanchland Abbey and were notable for their white habits. Today the village is predominantly built out of the stone remains of the Abbey, which dated back to the 12th century.

A beautiful spot surrounded by natural beauty, the nearby Derwent Reservoir is a fantastic place for water activities, especially sailing and fishing.

The Lord Crewe Arms is one of the oldest inns in the country, dating back to 1165. Full of history, the Jacobite Rebellion leader General Tom Foster hid behind the inn’s fireplace in 1715, while monks were said to use the inn as a hiding hole.

Blanchland really is one of the most beautiful villages in the constituency, so if you’re looking for something to do this weekend, why not visit Blanchland?! 

National Park Week

Northumberland is home to some of the most spectacular national parks in the UK, and it was fantastic to see National Parks minister Lord Gardiner visit the county this week to mark National Parks week. Last year a record 1.5 million people visited Northumberland National Park, bringing £80 million to the economy. Lord Gardiner said “with its secluded valleys, clear night skies and rare wildlife, Northumberland National Park is one of our most tranquil and picturesque landscapes”, and with attractions like Hadrian’s Wall and The Sill, I would encourage everyone to enjoy the nature and outdoors at Northumberland National Park. We know how great Northumberland is- it’s great to see that everyone else is finding out too!  

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Hexham Constituency Community Champions Awards Winners

I recently announced the launch of the Hexham Constituency Community Champions Awards, which recognise some of the extraordinary achievements of people in communities across the constituency. Here are some more of the latest recipients who have all made outstanding contributions to the local community. 

Gordon Allan- for charitable achievement, founding an initiative to encourage people with mental health issues to participate in a sport or be physically active and generally raising awareness of mental health issues 

Prof. John Dark- for services to healthcare, spending thirty years as a surgeon at the Freeman Hospital's lung and heart transplant programme, performing around 500 transplants and transforming the programme into one of the best in the UK 

Paul Nash- for charitable achievement, raising money for prostate cancer charities through organising golf tournaments 

Father Leo Pyle- for sixty years of service to the church and the local community 

Evelyn Weightman- for charitable achievement, founding the Northern Head and Neck Cancer Fund, and this weekend organising a charity bike ride to raise money for the cause 

Congratulations to everyone! 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Northumberland Knowledge- Henry Travers

It’s one of the most loved films of all time. But what most people don’t know is that It’s a Wonderful Life’s guardian angel, Clarence, was actually born here in Northumberland.

Born in Prudhoe in 1874, actor Henry Travers is most famous for his role in Frank Capra’s 1946 classic, but he was also nominated for an Oscar in 1942 for Mrs Miniver. Travers grew up in Berwick and initially trained as an architect, before taking up acting and moving the USA in 1917 where he appeared on Broadway for 20 years. He retired from acting in 1949 and died in 1965.

A blue plaque dedicated to Travers has now been installed in Prudhoe town centre. The plaque includes his famous line from It’s a Wonderful Life, ‘Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings’, as well as the words ‘Our very own angel born in Prudhoe’.

The plaque is located on a wall near The Glade area of Prudhoe, with the permission of the Co-op supermarket, so if you’re nearby be sure to have a look and remember the Northumberland-born actor who created one of the most iconic characters in film history.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Campaign to re-open George Stephenson's birthplace

I am encouraged to hear that The National Trust are working with a group of students from Newcastle Business School to find a solution to re-open George Stephenson's birthplace in Wylam. Stephenson lived in the cottage for the first eight years of his life, but it was closed earlier this year due to costs and falling visitor numbers. However, The National Trust said at the time that they hoped the closure would be temporary and they are now working with four students from Northumbria University's Business Clinic initiative, where students form their own consultancy firms to provide free advice to businesses. Meetings are apparently going well, with the students putting forward some good ideas to make the cottage financially viable, including creating a mobile app to guide visitors around the birthplace and they are currently looking into finding funding for the project. I have written to The National Trust making clear my hope that the site will be re-opened, and I hope to see George Stephenson's birthplace back open to the public soon as it is an important part of the region's history and a valuable facility for the community. 

Brilliant Businesses- The Rat Inn

Delicious British food, real ales and a rustic atmosphere- Anick’s Rat Inn is the perfect country pub!

Full of history, The Rat was originally a drovers inn, however the origin of its unusual name is unclear- local rat catchers may have regularly met there, but another story claims that the largest ever rat was caught there, and there is also a tale than the inn’s ale keeper gave information to the crown during the Jacobite risings in 1715 and 1745, and was known afterwards as ‘the Rat’. Whichever story you prefer, you can certainly feel centuries of history in every one of The Rat’s atmospheric rooms.

Locally sourced produce is served in the bar, conservatory and restaurant/dining room, whilst the beer garden is home to incredible views across the Tyne Valley. With both cosy fires and outdoor dining, The Rat is a great place to enjoy a local meal whatever the season.
Next time you eat out, make sure to think of The Rat Inn- it’s one of my personal favourites!