Thursday, 28 February 2019

Gin tasting and fundraising

Last year I had the great pleasure of opening the Hexham offices of Lifespan, a North-East based charity which supports people who are suffering from serious, life-limiting illnesses and their friends and family. The charity offers a variety of care and support to patients free of charge. 

This Saturday (2nd March, 6pm) Lifespan is holding a gin tasting event at Haydon Bridge Community Centre. The event is being held to raise money for Lifespan to continue to do their incredible work. Tickets cost £15 each and include three different gins, a two course buffet and a performance by a live singer.

It sounds like it will be a fantastic evening, while raising money to support a wonderful local charity. If you would like to attend the event, tickets are available here:

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Attention new start-ups- an opportunity not to be missed!

I was pleased to meet Wenty and Vanessa Beaumont recently to hear all about their incredible competition giving a new start-up business the chance to win two years’ free office space. As well as office space worth £7000, the winning business will receive mentoring from accountants, lawyers, designers and marketing experts. 

To enter, email an outline of your business (600 words max.) and a CV of your founder/s to

The deadline for entries is 20th May 2019.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Hexham Farmers' Market- today!

It's Market Day in Hexham, and local farmers and producers will be in the town's historic market place with an amazing range of locally produced goods for you to purchase. It's a great opportunity to meet and support our brilliant farmers, while trying out some of the best quality products around.

The market gets underway at 9am- what better way to start off the weekend?!

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Protect yourself this winter- it's not too late!

We all want to avoid the flu this winter, so I would like to remind anyone who falls into one of the vulnerable groups to make sure you get your flu vaccination. I have the vaccination every year as I lost my spleen in a riding accident and so am immuno compromised, but if you are aged over 65, a pregnant woman or have an underlying health condition such as heart or respiratory disease or a weakened immune system, please do arrange with your GP surgery to get the flu jab sooner rather than later. It's not too late to get your vaccination!

You can find out more here-

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Local business Egger is going from strength to strength

Egger is Tynedale and Ponteland's biggest private sector employer, with more than 700 people employed at the factory. It is brilliant to hear that the company is going from strength to strength, having reported an increase in turnover of 9% for the year to April 2018. Egger is one of Europe's most advanced wood-based panel production facilities, and I am a particular admirer of the company for its fantastic apprenticeship and employee training scheme- 10% of its workforce are currently or have been apprentices.

I am always delighted to hear of a local business achieving such success, especially when the business is such an important part of our local community and economy. Congratulations to everyone at Egger- keep up the good work!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Funding opportunity that really could save a life

I would like to draw the attention of local community groups to an incredibly important scheme run by the North East Ambulance Service Charitable Fund. They are offering £500 in funding and support to community groups across the North East to fund new community defibrillators. Villages including Haydon Bridge, Mickley and Ovingham have already benefitted from the scheme and I would encourage other community groups to follow their lead and apply for funding by visiting the link below:

Friday, 15 February 2019

A pledge to support those who serve

The Armed Forces Covenant is a voluntary pledge not to discriminate against a member of the Armed Forces, representing a promise by the nation that those who serve who have served are treated fairly. All 407 local authorities in mainland Great Britain have pledged to uphold the Armed Forces Covenant, and over 3000 organisations have signed, including businesses and charities.

If you or a family member are a member of the armed forces or a veteran, the Armed Forces Covenant offers a wide variety of support to ensure that you are being treated fairly. Meanwhile, if you are business or community organisation, you can find out how you can get involved and become a forces friendly employer by visiting here-

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Northumberland Local Plan drop-in sessions

The Local Plan sets out strategic planning policies and planning principles for the whole county, the general scale and distribution of new development, and the detail of where new homes, workplaces and facilities will be located. The Publication Draft Local Plan provides the final opportunity to comment on the document before it is submitted for independent examination.

In February and March 2019 NCC will be hosting a number of drop-in sessions around Northumberland. The drop-in sessions will include a small exhibition and staff from the local plan team will be present to help answer questions and advise on how to provide comments. The dates, times and venues for these drop-in sessions are provided below:

Prudhoe- Saturday 16th February, 10am-3pm, Bowls Pavilion, Waterworld, Front Street
Haydon Bridge- Wednesday 20th February, 2pm-7pm, Community Centre, Ratcliffe Road
Bellingham- Wednesday 20th February, 2pm-7pm, Town Hall
Morpeth- Monday 25th February, 2pm-7pm, Town Hall
Ponteland- Tuesday 26th February, 2pm-7pm, Memorial Hall
Haltwhistle- Saturday 2nd March, 10am-3pm, Library, Westgate
Corbridge- Thursday 7th March, 2pm-7pm, Parish Hall, St Helen's Street

If you want to find out more information about the local plan, click here.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Get set for the Hexham Running Festival!

It might still be more than 150 days away, but now is the perfect time to start training for this year's Hexham Running Festival. The Festival this year includes various races- the Hexham Half Marathon, Hexham 10k and Hexham 3k children's run. It's not all about running though, as the Festival will also include live entertainment, a bar, a range of food services, sports massage, raffles and camping. The events take place on Sunday 14th July; to find out more visit here-

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Leisure, tourism and employment- Kielder's got it all

Kielder is one of the most beautiful parts of the Hexham constituency, and I recently visited Kielder Reservoir to meet some of the young people who work there for Northumbrian Water, a company that has provided a welcome boost to employment in the Kielder area. As well as the Reservoir, Northumbrian Water also operates Landal Kielder Waterside, a tourist accommodation site at the heart of Kielder Water and Forest Park. 

The Park has an incredible variety of reasons to visit. As well as being able to get away from technology and out into the stunning surroundings, it′s the finest mountain biking destination in England, the country′s largest Dark Skies Park with all the wonders that this brings, it hosts a wide range of activities on Northern Europe′s largest man made lake, and so much more. All of this has also contributed to the area economically, not least in terms of jobs. It was fantastic to meet some of those who have found employment with Northumbrian Water, and to find out about what it has meant to their lives.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Produced in Northumberland- flying the flag for local producers

Northumberland County Council's 'Produced in Northumberland' is a scheme which aims to raise the profile of local Northumberland produce and businesses through a verification process to confirm that food and drink is produced in the county. Audits are carried out by Trading Standards and Environmental Health staff, with businesses signed up so far including Brocksbushes Farm Shop, the Artisan Bread Company and Kielder Organic Meats. The 'Produced in Northumberland' logo has become a recognisable brand, clearly identifying producers and businesses signed up to the scheme as high-quality and local. 

We all know about the incredible high quality of food and drink we produce in Northumberland- 'Produced in Northumberland' is a brilliant initiative which is raising the profile of our food and drink industry so that everyone else knows it too. If you are a local producer or business then I would certainly encourage you to find out more about the scheme by visiting here-

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Success in my campaign for a new Middle and High School in Hexham!

Outside Hexham QEHS with then Schools Minister David Laws back in 2013

I am delighted with the announcement that a total of £37million will be invested in two new schools for Hexham! It means new school buildings for Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School. 

When I became our MP in 2010, I decided to campaign for new buildings and more money to be invested in our local schools. As a result, we have seen a full rebuild in Prudhoe and work on new buildings in Ponteland has begun. 

To improve funding, I launched the Fairer Funding Challenge and have secured increased funding for our schools as part of the Fairer Funding Formula. Schools in the Hexham Constituency are receiving an average funding increase of 3.3%, with some small rural schools benefitting by more than 10%. 

Outside Prudhoe Community High school with former Education Secretary Justine Greening in 2016. 

There is a drop in at Hexham QEHS tomorrow night (February 7th) between 6:30 and 8:30pm. I would urge local parents to attend 

The latest announcement means that every high school will have been completely redeveloped, or seen significant refurbishment since 2010. 

This is fantastic news and I can't wait to see the new schools when they are completed in the next few years.

Together for a better internet

Yesterday was Safer Internet Day and I know that schools all over the constituency worked with their pupils to discover how they can use the Internet and technology safely and responsibly. This year's theme was 'together for a better internet', and young people were encouraged to explore the idea of consent in an online context and how they ask, give and receive consent online. It is so important that young people are given the power to take control of their online activities so that they can use the internet as a useful and positive tool. 

The link below contains lots of useful resources for parents and carers, and I would encourage you to speak with your child about how they can stay safe online and use the Internet in a positive way-

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Keep yourself healthy this winter

I would like to encourage anyone who falls into one of the vulnerable groups to make sure you get your flu vaccination. I have the vaccination every year as I lost my spleen in a riding accident and so am immuno compromised, but if you are aged over 65, a pregnant woman or have an underlying health condition such as heart or respiratory disease or a weakened immune system, please do arrange with your GP surgery to get the flu jab sooner rather than later.

You can find out more here-

Monday, 4 February 2019

Shop local!

I am passionate about supporting the small businesses that are at the centre of our local communities. For the past two years I have held my Small Business Awards to coincide with Small Business Saturday in December, with the aim of celebrating the best of Tynedale and Ponteland's small businesses. It is vital though that we support these local small businesses all year round, and I would encourage you to visit the link below to use the Small Business Finder tool to find a range of small businesses in your local area. Our communities really wouldn't be the same without them!

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Wylam's record breaker!

My congratulations to Claire Hughes from Wylam, who has set a new world record as part of a team of rowers, Tyne Team Innovation. The mixed fours team completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, the world's toughest row involving 3000 miles across the Atlantic, in a record-beating time of 42 days, 10 hours and 26 minutes. I was lucky enough to meet some of the team and see their boat for myself a few months ago, and I am delighted to hear that their incredible efforts were such a success. Congratulations to all the team!

Friday, 1 February 2019

Let's all do the Daily Mile!

The Daily Mile is a brilliant global initiative which aims to get children to exercise for 15 minutes every day to improve their physical, social, emotional and mental health and well-being by getting children to run or jog for 15 minutes every day. I am so pleased to see that more and more local schools are signing up to the programme- there are now 14 schools in the Tyne Valley taking part in the Daily Mile. I really would encourage you to find out more about the Daily Mile and encourage your local school to take part by visiting here-