Friday, 28 February 2020

Shop local at Hexham Abbey

Next weekend sees the first indoor market and craft fair of the year take place in the Great Hall at Hexham Abbey. Local traders will showcase their beautiful products and gifts on Saturday 7th March, 11am-3pm, as part of an event that champions local talent and gives you the opportunity to shop local. The fair is organised by CH Event and will be a monthly event. It is free to enter- put it in your diary and support our talented local suppliers!

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Meeting the Environment Agency, and todays Environment Bill in the Commons

Second Reading of the Environment Bill takes place in the Commons today. I am backing the new legislation as it offers this generation a real opportunity to leave the natural world in a better condition than it inherited. The Environment Bill is one of the flagship pieces of legislation for the new Conservative Government and it aims to protect and enhance the natural environment by tackling a priority of our time. In part this legislation is borne out of the need to address environmental regulation in view of the UK leaving the EU, but it goes much further than simply creating a new post-Brexit framework for the environment. The Bill outlines improved measures to tackle waste; enhance water efficiency and resource management; address air quality, as well as a renewed focus on biodiversity and conservation. The Bill will also create an Office for Environmental Protection to monitor and enforce new and higher standards.

This Bill offers us the opportunity to finish what was started in the last Parliament and to make sure this generation passes on our precious environment in a better state than we found it. We have made real progress in recent years. But this new legislation goes much further.

In addition this week I have met with local Environment Agency representatives to discuss a number of key issues including the response to the recent storms, passing on my thanks of residents for all the teams work, but also to chase up the long awaited River Tyne revised modelling which is a hot topic at our flood forums. 

Clearly the biggest impact has been my successful plan to lower the Kielder reservoir post Storm Desmond – see here:

And we have driven forward innovative local schemes as seen on Tyne Green

But the long term change will not happen unless the EA approach the River Tyne in a different way. We cannot do this without the revised modelling and consequential approach thereafter. I continue to work with local groups, flood groups, councillors and Nick Oliver who leads for us in Tynedale and Northumberland on flood prevention.

I have also had meetings this week with the Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow MP, and the Secretary of State to raise issues with the proposed Kielder Water Abstraction as I have been contacted by a number of concerned businesses, and to continue to press for a replacement of the leader scheme, and an update on both the RPA / BPS situation before next Friday weeks farming surgery and getting more clarity on the progress of the great Northumberland Forest million trees programme. I am holding a forestry summit / update meeting with NCC and key local stakeholders, including Paul Brannen who has done great work on this issue, in Morpeth on Friday.   

The World's Biggest Pub Quiz

Pubs play a vital role in our communities, raising more than £100 million for good causes every year. From 8th-12th March, The World's Biggest Pub Quiz is taking place, with pubs across the UK taking part to raise funds for a variety of charities, including this year's charity partner, Action Against Hunger. The event is organised by PubAid, which was created in 2009 to highlight the charitable work of pubs, and the first quiz took place in 2016. Last year more than 1500 pubs took part and raised £230,000 for good causes.

The following local pubs are taking part:

  • The Barrasford Arms
  • The Golden Lion Hotel, Allendale
  • Halfway House, Prudhoe 
  • The Manor House Inn, Shotley Bridge
  • Three Tuns, Heddon-on-the-Wall
  • Yolo, Ponteland 

The World's Biggest Pub Quiz is a brilliant way to make a difference to great causes like Action Against Hunger while having fun at the same time- go along to your local pub and get involved! More details about the local pubs taking part can be found here- 

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Donate your books to a fantastic cause

If your home is full of books you have read and don't need anymore, you can donate them to a fantastic cause. Barrett Developments North East is working with Borderline Books, a literacy project based in the North East, to collect as many unwanted books as possible in time for World Book Day on 5th March. Books that are in good condition can be dropped off at any of the sales offices, including David Wilson Homes in Hexham, so that they can be distributed to those who need them most by Borderline Books. Borderline Books works with schools, homelessness groups, food banks and women's refuges to support vulnerable people to improve their literacy skills.

This is a great project- I will be donating some books and encourage you to do the same with any unwanted books you have at home.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

1 month to go until the Great British Spring Clean- get involved!

It was great to join the amazing volunteers from the Prudhoe Groundforce team this week to tidy up their local community and remove litter. Prudhoe Groundforce do fantastic work all year round to clean up the community in Prudhoe, but with less than a month to go until the Great British Spring Clean 2020, now is the perfect time for everyone to get involved in taking responsibility for the communities we live in.

The Great British Spring Clean is the UK's biggest mass-action environmental campaign. The campaign aims to encourage us to transform out country by creating cleaner streets, parks and beaches and protecting wildlife. We can all commit ourselves to performing individual actions that will make a huge difference, whether that is by picking up litter when you walk the dog or taking part in or hosting a clean-up.

Last year more than 560,000 people took part in the Great British Spring Clean and this year it is hoped that more than 600,000 will take part. You can make your pledge to get involved and help your local community here-

Friday, 21 February 2020

Fairtrade Fortnight

For two weeks every year thousands of companies and individuals come together to mark Fairtrade Fortnight, an opportunity to share the stories of the people who grow our food, drinks and the cotton in our clothes, and who are often exploited and underpaid. This year's Fairtrade Fortnight starts on Monday, running from 24th February- 8th March. The campaign is calling for cocoa farmers to earn a living income and is sharing stories that show the positive impact that Fairtrade has on the women behind your chocolate bar. A living income means enough money to live a dignified life, paying for essentials like clothing, medicine and school. Fairtrade Fortnight is also a great time to remind ourselves of the Fairtrade Standards, which cover price, premium, women's empowerment and environment- more information on the Fairtrade Standards is available at the link below.

Last year's Fairtrade Fortnight saw over 4000 events take place, with 1 million people taking part. You can find out how you can get involved with this year's Fairtrade Fortnight in your community, workplace, faith group or school here-

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Market Day in Hexham

This Saturday is Market Day in Hexham! The Hexham Farmers' Market will take place from 9am-1.30pm in Hexham Market Place, with local farmers and producers from all over Northumberland selling products using locally produced ingredients. The Hexham Farmers' Market takes place fortnightly and is always a great opportunity to support our local producers and economy. Go along and see what local products you can find!

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Fashion is front and centre in Corbridge

Every year Corbridge comes together to organise a fashion show in aid of local causes, and this year’s event is taking place on 24th March at 2.30pm and 7.30pm at the Angel of Corbridge. The fashion shows will feature fashion from local businesses, with all money raised being shared equally between the Corbridge Youth Initiative and the Charlotte Straker Community Respite Bed.

You can buy your tickets for the shows at various local Corbridge businesses, including Norma James, Finale Shoes and Accessories, Shorts of Corbridge and Katie Kerr clothing.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Focus on men's mental health at Heart Wood

Congratulations to Heart Wood, a charity set up by Chip Ponsford from Hexham, on receiving funding from the National Lottery. Heart Wood was set up to improve men’s mental health through woodland-based counselling and therapy. They plan to use the money to run two eco therapy groups a week and train more therapists to offer more sessions. Currently sessions are held for men aged over 25 in Slaley and for 18-25 year olds in Ponteland. 

I am sure this funding will make a huge difference to the work Heart Wood is able to do in improving the mental health of men in our local area. If you feel that the sessions offered by Heart Wood might be helpful to you, please find out more by visiting their website here- 

Monday, 17 February 2020

Northern Point to Point comes to Corbridge

The next Northern Point to Point meeting takes place this Sunday (23rd February) at Downhills, Corbridge. The first race starts at 12.30pm, with pony racing from 11.30am. I have ridden a winner here in the past, and while I will not be riding this weekend, I will certainly be supporting. It's always a fantastic occasion- you can find more details about the meeting here-

Friday, 14 February 2020

Year 12 pupils- apply for the chance to experience university life!

Applications are now open for schools and young people to apply for the Sutton Trust UK Summer Schools programme. The Sutton Trust champions social mobility from birth to the workplace and their summer schools are designed to help young people make informed choices about their futures. Their summer schools give young people the chance to experience university life and explore taster sessions in a chosen subject. A recent study has found that young people who take part in a UK Summer School are four times more likely to receive an offer from a top university, so the benefits of the programme are huge! 

The summer schools are open to all state-school students in year 12. The deadline for applications is 3rd March 2020. 

To find out more about the programme and its application process, visit here: 

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Going beyond the Westminster bubble!

The General Election on December 12th was a vote for change. It was an election that sent a powerful message to Westminster that democracy cannot be ignored.

That's why I've launched a new podcast, it's called Beyond the Bubble. It's a different type of politics podcast, all about getting out of the Westminster bubble and focusing on the issues that really matter.

The first two episodes are out now, with Episode 1 featuring North East MP's Dehenna Davison (Bishop Auckland) and Jacob Young (Redcar).

Click here to listen and download now.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

St Matthew's pupils run to success!

Well done to pupils at St Matthew's Primary School, Prudhoe, who have received £100 from Prudhoe Town Council after having the most participants in the 2019 Miner's Race. Children at the school were presented with a cheque by the Prudhoe town mayor and representatives from the race organisers, Prudhoe Plodders and Essity. The school will use the money to buy gym equipment to support pupils' physical wellbeing.

The Prudhoe Miner's Race was revived after the 2012 London Olympics to build on the legacy of the games. This year's race will take place on 20th September.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Mind Your Head

Mental Health affects people from all walks of life, with one in four adults and one in ten children experiencing mental illness.

Today the Farm Safety Foundation's third annual Mind Your Head campaign launches, aiming to raise awareness and encourage communication about mental health and wellbeing of farmers and those in the agricultural industry. Mental health issues are of increasing concern in the farming community, with 84% of farmers under 40 saying that they believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today. Additionally, 85% of young farmers believe there is a definite link between farm safety and mental health. It is estimated that more than 20% of farmers will suffer from depression during their working life; it has been found that whilst UK farmers are renowned for the attention they give to their livestock, crops ad machinery, it appears that they do not have such a good track record when it comes to taking care of their own wellbeing. That's why the Mind Your Head campaign is so important (especially in a rural area like the Hexham constituency) to raise awareness of the pressures within the agricultural industry and to encourage farmers and farming families not to neglect themselves.

The Farm Safety Foundation's Mind Your Head campaign takes place from 10th-14th February to continue the conversation about mental health amongst the farming community.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Great opportunity for nature lovers!

Northumberland National Park is looking for conservation-minded young people aged 16-25 to experience life as a National Park Ranger. Young people with a passion for nature and an interest in pursuing a career in the environmental or countryside sectors can apply for a 10 day placement to take place from April-June 2020. Successful applicants will have the chance to work alongside staff at Northumberland National Park as part of its Ranger Team, becoming involved in the care and management of the Park.

This is a unique learning opportunity for young people to gain experience and skills. Northumberland National Park is the most beautiful National Park in the UK; these placements sound like a great experience and a lot of fun!

For more information, call 07795 834936 or email

Thursday, 6 February 2020

VE and VJ Day 75

This year marks the 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ Day, on 8th May and 15th August. Ahead of the nation's commemorations, The Royal British Legion are asking veterans to register to be a part of their programme of events. Applicants can be of British, Commonwealth or Allied origin and all costs will be met by The Royal British Legion. 750 Second World War generation from across the UK will be invited to attend the VE 75 events programme in London over the 8th-9th May. If you know someone who might be interested in applying, please do encourage them to do so!

Find out more about how to apply here:-

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

It's not too late to get your flu jab!

Flu can be very serious, especially at this time of year, so I would like to encourage you to get your immunisation this winter. This is particularly important if you fall into one of the vulnerable groups; if you are aged over 65, a pregnant woman or have an underlying health condition or weakened immune system, please do arrange to get your vaccine at your local GP surgery. By protecting yourself against the flu, you help yourself and your local community.

You can find out more about the flu jab via the NHS here:

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Roman history gifted to the nation

English Heritage cares for some of our constituency’s most important sites, including Housesteads, Corbridge and Chesters Roman Forts and significant portions of Hadrian’s Wall. In January, English Heritage took responsibility for caring for yet another historic site in the Hexham constituency; following a generous gift from local landowner Jennifer Du Cane, Carrawburgh Roman Fort is now an English Heritage site.

Carrawburgh is one of 16 forts along Hadrian’s Wall. The fort housed a garrison of around 500 soldiers- first from South West France and later from Southern Belgium- responsible for defending the frontier of the Roman Empire from the tribes to the north. Carrawburgh sits between Chesters and Housesteads. 

As an English Heritage site, Carrawburgh will be open to the public, with entrance free of charge. For more information, visit