Friday, 31 August 2018

Running to victory

The annual Essity Prudhoe Miners 10k race is back and expected to attract a record number of runners. The race, originally a traditional sporting event dating back to the early 20thcentury, was resurrected by the Prudhoe Town Council in 2012 to mark the London Olympics and has grown in popularity every year to become a key event in the region’s athletics calendar. Last year the race, organised by Prudhoe Town Council with support from Essity, attracted more than 400 runners, with the course altered slightly to cope with the increasing number of runners. The race has become such a memorable event in Prudhoe, celebrating the town’s mining heritage and encouraging local people to get running and have some fun. Prudhoe is leading the way with introducing keep fit initiatives in their community- there’s still time to enter if you want to get involved too! Essity is a major employer in our region and a great supporter of Prudhoe and the town. 

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Protecting against future flooding

In recent years we have seen how flooding has the potential to destroy our homes, businesses and communities. It is therefore fantastic news that the Environment Agency has launched a campaign to teach businesses how to prepare for future flooding. More than 700 businesses in the region have already been contacted by Flood Resilience Community Engagement Officers from the scheme. Some of the advice being offered to businesses includes checking their flood risk, ensuring they have the right insurance, writing a flood plan and investing in flood protection measures. 

Flooding really can devastate our communities, and so I welcome the Environment Agency’s move to help support businesses to protect themselves from future flooding.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Bobbing along!

It’s always a highlight of the Rotary Club of Ponteland calendar, and this Sunday (2nd September, 1.30-4.30pm) the Annual Duck Race is back! A series of duck and boat races, including a children’s boat race where children are invited to make their own boats to enter, are just part of the fun- there will also be stalls, rides, a bouncy slide, a magician and more. A fun family-day out, whilst raising money for good causes- make sure to put it in your diary!

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Growing success!

I had a great day at the Prudhoe Allotment Open Day, meeting some of the volunteers that work so hard to make the allotment such a brilliant part of the Prudhoe community. The allotment is used by people of all gardening abilities- beds and plots are available to rent. It is a really welcoming and friendly place, with a fantastic community atmosphere, so I would encourage any gardening enthusiasts to get involved.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Bellingham's BAAFest 2018

It’s just over a week until this year’s BAAFest begins (Bellingham All Acoustic Music Festival). Running from 7th-9thSeptember, the Festival is a weekend of live music set in the North Tyne Valley. With both local and international performers, as well as stalls, workshops, two real ale bars, food and festival camping, I would encourage all music lovers to head along to BAAFest next weekend for an unforgettable few days.

You can find out more about BAAFest here-

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Positive Twitter Day- let's tweet nice!

Next Friday (31stAugust) is Positive Twitter Day. Sadly Twitter is too often an unpleasant place, and no one should have to endure horrible and abusive comments on a site that should be a place where we can exchange opinions and enter into debate in a civil and respectful manner. That’s why I am supporting Positive Twitter Day- next Friday let’s all try to be nice to each other when we tweet. You never know- maybe we could then do it more often!

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Tyne Valley Art Fair- today!

Make sure you don’t miss out on the Tyne Valley Art Fair- taking place today! From 10.30am-4pm at Trinity Church Hall, Beaumont Street, Hexham, there will be lots of local art on display, giving you the chance to meet and support talented local artists. A great way to start your Bank Holiday weekend if you’re in the Hexham area!

Friday, 24 August 2018

2018 GCSE Results

Yesterday was GCSE results day, and I would like to congratulate everyone celebrating seeing their hard work over the past year pay off. 

It is really encouraging to see that the percentage of students achieving a good pass (Grades 9 to 5) in Northumberland has increased this year, with results also showing an increase in overall Attainment 8, the students’ average achievement across eight subjects, and 5+ in English and Maths.

I am delighted that we have seen such a strong set of results across Northumberland- I am passionate about ensuring that everyone gets the best possible education and this is a great reflection of the positive state of schools in our local area. Congratulations to all students, parents and teachers who have all worked so hard- you all deserve to celebrate now!

Thursday, 23 August 2018

An inspiring community service

I recently had a very special afternoon meeting everyone at Gateway to the Community, where I had the pleasure of being shown around by Fiona. Gateway to the Community is a brilliant charity working with people throughout West Northumberland who have learning disabilities to provide leisure and learning opportunities. The charity helps members to know what activities and courses are taking place in their communities and works with other organisations to ensure that the inclusion of people with a learning disability is mutually enjoyable and beneficial. Members include a wide range of ages, from young people in their teens through to people who are enjoying their retirement.

I really enjoyed my visit to Gateway in the Community, and it was great to meet everyone. The charity provides an invaluable local service, changing lives and providing support- it always needs more volunteers and support though, so please do contact them and get involved.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Get involved with the 2018 Tynedale Jobs Fair

Final preparations are underway for my 2018 Tynedale Jobs Fair, and if you’re a local business looking to hire there is still time to confirm your place at the event- please contact

The Jobs Fair takes place at Wentworth Leisure Centre, Hexham, from 10am-2.30pm on Friday 7thSeptember. Sponsored by Thompsons of Prudhoe and Northumberland County Council, and organised in conjunction with the Hexham Job Centre Plus, the Jobs Fair is ideal for anyone looking for work, a return to work or for a change in direction. More than fifty employers are now confirmed to attend, with jobs covering all corners of the Hexham constituency and beyond, from Bellingham to Newcastle. 

Some of the employers confirmed to attend and looking to recruit include:

·     Marks and Spencer
·     Waitrose
·     Egger
·     Essity
·     Thompsons of Prudhoe
·     Northumberland County Council
·     Northumbrian Water
·     Newcastle United Foundation
·     Release Potential
·     Walwick Hall

… And many more!

I would really recommend coming along to the Jobs Fair to anyone who is looking for work. With so many employers attending from a wide range of sectors, there is sure to be something for you. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Come on down to the People's Fair!

I was delighted to meet and chat with Tynedale NCS (National Citizen Service) students in Prudhoe this week, who are in the process of planning for their People’s Fair. The Fair will take place tomorrow (Wednesday 22ndAugust) from 11am-3pm at the East Youth Centre in Prudhoe. There will be lots going on, with a huge variety of stalls and some great local charities and causes being supported by the event, so do go along if you are free.

It was great to chat with the students, who are all clearly massive fans of NCS and the Northumberland County Council’s Youth Service. NCS is a brilliant and life-changing scheme that gives young people the chance to learn vital skills, gain confidence and meet new people. If you are 15-17 then I would definitely encourage you to find out more about the scheme, and I am sure the Tynedale students would too!

Monday, 20 August 2018

Great opportunity for local small shops

Tynedale and Ponteland’s best small shops are being invited to enter the 2018 Best Small Shops Competition. The competition was launched to promote small shops and the role they play in local communities, with entrants judged on their shops entrepreneurial activities, their impact within the community and innovation in their business. The final will be held in Parliament in November. 

Small shops play a vital role in our local communities, and the Best Small Shops competition celebrates everything that makes small shops so special. If you would like to enter your shop into the competition, you can do so until Sunday 9thSeptember 2018. To enter and for more information about the competition, visit here-

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Raise a glass!

You can now buy your tickets for Stocksfield Cricket Club’s 2018 Beer Festival, which takes place on Friday 7thSeptember. A marquee will be there with beer, ales, ciders, a gin and prosecco bar, food and a live band. You can buy your tickets for £10 each at the Cricket Club’s Clubhouse- it looks set to be a great event and the perfect way to kick off your weekend!

Friday, 17 August 2018

The stage is set at Hexham Abbey

The Hexham Abbey Festival is coming around again, and this year's festival will be focusing on the centenary of two very important events. 2018 marks 100 years since the signing of the Armistice to end World War One, as well as the first women being given the right to vote. There is a packed schedule of events planned, with poetry, music, film and singing, including events themed to commemorate the events of 100 years ago.

The Hexham Abbey Festival was founded in 1953, and in its sixty-five year history has seen world famous musicians and artists perform in the historic Abbey. This year's festival looks set to be a really special event thanks to volunteers and sponsors- for a full list of planned events and to find out how you can buy your tickets, visit here-

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Tackling unemployment in our local area

This week it was announced that unemployment has almost halved (48%) across Tynedale and Ponteland since 2010, meaning more jobs for our local area. This is hugely encouraging news, making an enormous difference to the lives of local people.

There is always work to be done to get more people into work however, and my upcoming 2018 Tynedale Jobs Fair is taking place on Friday 7th September at Wentworth Leisure Centre. Perfect for anyone looking to find work or for a change of direction, it would be great to see you there. And if you're a business that is looking to hire, please contact

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Great opportunity for local sports clubs

Paddy Power/Betfair's grassroots sports funding program Cash-4-Clubs is now open for applications. The program gives sports clubs the chance to apply for grants to improve facilities, purchase new equipment or gain coaching qualifications to help invest in the long-term sustainability of their club.

This year is particularly special as it is Cash-4-Clubs' 10th anniversary, and to mark the occasion they are giving one lucky club £10,000 to do something extraordinary. This is a fantastic opportunity for our local sports clubs to really make a difference to their future. If you are part of a sports club then why not encourage them to apply here?-

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

More success for local pubs

We already know that Northumberland is home to so many excellent pubs and restaurants, as was proved last year with the success of The Rat Inn’s Kevin MacLean, who was named as Parliamentary Pub Chef of the Year, and of Corbridge’s The Valley, named as a finalist of the 2018 Tiffin Cup. 

The success keeps on coming though, as The Boathouse in Wylam has been named as one of the top 10 pubs in the UK. Commended on the quality of its beers and events, including its Bank Holiday beer festivals, this is just the latest accolade for The Boathouse. The pub has previously been named as the CAMRA Pub of the year, one of 15 CAMRA awards they have won over the years. 

Congratulations to everyone at The Boathouse on a great achievement. The full list is available here-

Monday, 13 August 2018

Happy Birthday The Sill!

One of Northumberland’s best attractions is celebrating its first anniversary. Just over 12 months ago The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre opened for the first time, and since then more than 170,000 people have visited. 

Around this time last year I visited The Sill for the first time to have a first look around the fantastic new facility and meet staff and the people working hard to make the opening a success. Since then I have visited several times, most recently with the Environment Secretary Michael Gove. 

Designed to blend in with the landscape surrounding it, allowing visitors to engage with the beautiful landscape of our National Park, a highlight of The Sill is definitely its grassland roof, giving panoramic views in all directions from the viewing platform. Facilities also include interactive exhibits, learning rooms for educational groups, a youth hostel and a café with locally sourced food.

A brilliant facility that we should be very proud of, The Sill has had a great first year and I am sure will only get more successful. Happy Anniversary to everyone at The Sill!

Saturday, 11 August 2018

2018 Tynedale Jobs Fair- top employers confirmed to attend!

It’s not long now until my 2018 Tynedale Jobs Fair, and with four of the area’s biggest employers confirmed to attend, it’s the perfect event if you’re looking for work or for a change of direction.

Just some of the employers confirmed to attend and looking to recruit include:

  • Essity
  • Thompsons of Prudhoe
  • Northumberland County Council
  • Egger
  • Northumbrian Water
  • Newcastle United Foundation
  • Waitrose
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Fergusons of Blyth
  • Release Potential
  • Walwick Hall

Sponsored by Northumberland County Council and Thompsons of Prudhoe, the 2018 Tynedale Jobs Fair takes place on Friday 7th September, 10am-2.30pm at Wentworth Leisure Centre, Hexham. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Get ready for the Slaley Show!

A reminder that this Saturday- 11th August- the 2018 Slaley Show is taking place. The Show is always a real highlight of the summer period, and this year looks set to be no different, with a huge range of activities planned for all ages. Local food producers, crafts, vintage tractors, horses, sheep, dogs, terrier racing, flowers, vegetables and fairground games are just a few examples of the fun to be had. A great local show with so much history- the Slaley Show was first held in 1845-, Slaley’s the place to be this weekend!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Big Lottery success for Hexham First School

Congratulations to everyone at Hexham First School- they have been awarded £10,000 by the Big Lottery Fund to build an Early Years outdoor area. The Big Lottery Fund ensures that the money raised by players of The National Lottery goes back to communities to help them thrive and achieve their ambitions. Well done to everyone at Hexham First School for helping to make this happen, especially to Jo Shepherd for leading the fund-raising and to Councillor Cath Homer. It sounds like the new outdoor area will be great!

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Grateful for our brave police officers

I would like to offer my congratulations to Stocksfield’s PC Victoria Threadgold and PC Gary Sharpe, who have received the North-East regional award at the National Police Bravery Awards. They were recognised for their actions in an incident in February 2016 when they were called to a domestic violence incident and were threatened with an imitation firearm. Everyday members of the Police risk their lives to protect us, and it is wonderful to see PC Threadgold and PC Sharpe recognised for their bravery. 

Thursday, 2 August 2018

A busy month ahead!

It’s that time of year again- over the next few weeks some of Northumberland’s very best country and agricultural shows will be taking place. The following shows are happening over the next few weeks:

These shows are always a highlight of the summer and make for a great day out, so put the dates in your diary now!