Thursday, 26 April 2018

Great Northumberland- launches today!

Today sees the launch of ‘Great Northumberland’, Northumberland County Council’s cultural programme of activities across the county, which has been set up to help increase visitor numbers to Northumberland over the summer period and beyond. The launch is being held at Hexham Abbey today, kicking off what promise to be a great few months filled with some really exciting events. The programme will open with a showcase event in Hexham on 7thJuly and will close in Berwick on 1stSeptember. The ‘Great Northumberland’ programme is certainly a community event, with tourist attractions, businesses and residents all involved, whilst The Duchess of Northumberland, journalist Kate Adie and Commonwealth bronze medal winner Laura Weightman are just some of the names supporting the programme.   

Just some of the exciting events taking place over the next few months include:

·     7thJuly- showcase launch at Hexham Sele and Abbey gardens, an hour long show with street theatre, live music and day-time fireworks
·     14th/15thJuly- an outdoor theatre production about what it is like to be young and live in Northumberland today at Prudhoe riverside
·     21stJuly- a day of poetry in the streets of Morpeth, with an event to celebrate the Northern Poetry Library’s 50thbirthday 
·     22ndJuly- explore the skies and the waters with a sound and image installation from the North Pennines Observatory, followed by a talk by Robert Good 
·     28thJuly- history comes to life at Seaton Delaval Hall, with music, performances and parades taking place throughout the day
·     4th/5thAugust- celebrating women both in the Roman era and today at Vindolanda and The Sill to mark 100 years of women’s suffrage 
·     12thAugust- Alnwick Market place will be filled with music, song, dance and the spoken word as part of the 43rdAlnwick International Music Festival
·     18th/19thAugust- explore the story of the Ashington Group with walking tours and talks at Woodhorn Museum 
·     19thAugust- an installation on Blyth beach of over 600 handmade blue sail cloth flags illustrating the journey of Blyth’s Captain William Smith to Antarctica 
·     25th-27thAugust- a solo exhibition of sculptures by Joseph Hillier who has collaborated with a Northumbrian dancer to capture her gestures and movements through a fusion of ancient bronze casting and digital 3D motion capture technology
·     1stSeptember- the Great Northumberland Finale in Berwick, with a community choir procession along the main street singing local songs, with an hour-long seated concert in Berwick Guildhall

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ovingham First keeps getting greener

I was delighted to be asked to present Ovingham First School with their fourth Green Flag, which they have been awarded in recognition of their amazing work ensuring they are an ‘Eco-School’ to protect our environment. It was great to meet the Eco Council and Miss Moore who work so hard to make their school environmentally friendly. I have received some wonderful letters in the last few weeks from pupils at the school, telling me their ideas of how we can reduce plastic use and pollution, and it is fantastic to see how enthusiastic the children all are about protecting our planet. Well done to everyone at Ovingham First and keep up the good work!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Outcomes of Consultation on Education in the West of Northumberland

I am very pleased that Cllr Daley and the County Council’s leadership have really listened to parents on the issue of education in the West of Northumberland. They said they would listen to what local people have to say and they have kept to their word. It is a very refreshing change from the way our local community was often ignored under the previous administration. All of the parents I spoke to accepted that if falling roll numbers or falling standards became an issue then those issues would rightly need to be dealt with. I will be working closely with the Council and Cllr Daley to see how we can all work together to support our local schools going forward. Fundamentally I think the fact that the voice of Tynedale is being heard and taken into account at County Hall, for the first time in a very long time, will be very welcome by parents and residents.

'The Three Tumours'

I recently met Richard Stewart and Ian Hardy to talk about their experience of living with a brain tumour and their fundraising efforts for brain tumour research. Richard and Ian, together with fellow brain tumour sufferers Dan Howard and Graydon Downs and paramedic Vincent McCluskey, will be walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall from west to east starting on 25thApril. As well as raising money to fund research, they also hope to raise awareness of the effect of brain tumours on both patients and their families.

All the money raised by their epic walk will be donated to The Brain Tumour Charity, Brain Tumour Research and Brains Trust, and the group hope to smash their £50,000 target. I wish the team the best of luck with their walk- if you would like to support ‘The Three Tumours’ team and help them reach their target, you can donate here:

Monday, 23 April 2018

Diana Gilbertson, Community Champion

My celebration of some of the winners of my Hexham Constituency Community Champion Awards took place recently at Walwick Hall, sponsored by Gareth Jones at Red Hot Property. One of the extraordinary winners who attended the event was Diana Gilbertson, who was given the award in recognition of her incredible efforts fundraising over £5000 for Tyndale Hospice at Home in memory of her mum with a five-day trek in Nepal. The money will no doubt make a huge difference to the work of Tynedale Hospice at Home, providing palliative nursing care. 

I have so much admiration for people like Diana, who go to such incredible efforts to raise money and make a difference to others, and I was delighted to meet Diana and her father at the event and to thank her for the amazing work she has done.

If you know someone you think deserves a Community Champion Award, please do get in touch and let me know.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Celebrate Spring

Hexham will be the place to be next Saturday as the town celebrates its annual Spring Festival in the grounds of Hexham Abbey. With music in the bandstand, food, craft stalls, activities and a mini funfair, there will be something for everyone, making it a great family day out. The Festival is organised by the Hexham Community Partnership and it promises to be a fantastic day, so make sure to start your weekend at the Hexham Spring Festival (Saturday 28thApril, 9am-4.30pm). 

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Care Home Open Day- linking communities

Today is Care Home Open Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the people that make our local care homes such happy and friendly places to be. Care homes are at the centre of so many local communities and today they are opening their doors and inviting you to get to know the people that work so hard to make care homes so welcoming. 

It is very important to me to have a relationship with local care homes in the constituency, and last month I visited Carntyne Residential Care Home in Hexham for their Easter Fair. It was a pleasure to visit Carntyne and to meet staff and residents. It was great to see the fantastic community spirit they have there- why not visit your nearest care home and see for yourself the brilliant work they do? 

Friday, 20 April 2018

Take a leaf out of Hexham's book

The Hexham Book Festival starts next week (26thApril-6thMay), with a great line-up of authors scheduled to attend. With a line-up including Sarah Winman, Simon Mayo, Evan Davis, Judy Murray, Jeremy Vine, David Starkey, Harriet Harman and many more, it looks set to be a fantastic few weeks for Hexham. The Festival is this year focusing on the strides women have made in the last hundred years to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage, with Dr Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, also attending. Always a great event, which benefits the local economy and tourism- I encourage you to find out more about what’s going on at the Hexham Book Festival.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Restoring historic farm buildings

A new grant scheme offering funding to restore historic farm buildings in National Parks is being piloted this year. The Historic Building Restoration Grant is being piloted in certain areas around the country, including Northumberland, with the aim of saving iconic and historic farm buildings in English National Parks from falling out of use. Owners of these buildings can apply for a grant offering 80% of the cost of restoration, including replacing the roof, weather proofing the exterior, or other restoration works so that the building can be used again for farming purposes. The scheme is open for applications until 31stJanuary 2019, and once approved, the work must be completed within two years. I welcome this scheme, which will not only preserve our rural history and culture, but will also regenerate historic buildings for use today, and I encourage building owners to apply for a grant. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Spring Information Fair- this Friday!

A reminder that my rearranged Ageing Well Spring Information Fair is taking place on Friday (20thApril). The event was postponed last month due to the chaos caused by the ‘Beast from the East’, but will now be held at St Mary Magdalene Parish Hall, Prudhoe, from 10am-12pm. The event will be attended by local community groups, charities and businesses that help or serve older people, including:

·     Age UK
·     Ageing Well Network
·     Carers Northumberland
·     Prudhoe Waterworld
·     Prudhoe Local History Society
·     Prudhoe Castle Bowling Club
·     CAB
·     NCC Community Safety
·     Talking Matters
·     Northumberland County Blind Association
·     Prudhoe Social Eyes
·     Prudhoe Community Partnership
·     Alzheimer’s Society
·     Carers Northumberland
·     Wylam WI
·     Wylam Amateur Dramatics Society

There is something for everyone, from advice and support to clubs and groups. Free admission and home-made refreshments. Everyone is welcome- I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018


This weekend the fifth annual Ponteland Beer Festival will take place in Ponteland. Last year over 3000 people attended and it is hoped that this year’s festival will be the biggest and best yet. With a selection of over 150 beers, lagers and ciders on sale, a gin bar and a wine and prosecco bar, as well as soft drinks provided by Fentimans and a variety of food suppliers, there really will be something for everyone. There will also be musical entertainment and rugby matches to watch on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival will be held next to the rugby pitch at Ponteland Leisure Centre from Friday 2oth-Sunday 22ndApril. For more information about the festival and how to buy tickets, visit here-

Monday, 16 April 2018

Know your first aid- you never know when you'll need it!

None of us know when we might be called upon to give first aid, and so it is so important that we have the necessary first aid skills to be prepared for an urgent situation. The British Red Cross has shared information on how to give first aid to someone who is bleeding heavily. Easy to learn and easy to perform, you never know when this information might be needed: 

1.     Put pressure on the wound with whatever is available to stop or slow down the flow of blood. You are acting as a “plug” to stop the blood escaping. The pressure you apply will help the blood clot and stop the bleeding.
2.     Call 999 as soon as possible. If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.
3.     Keep pressure on the wound until help arrives.

You can watch a short video about how to help someone who is bleeding heavily here-

Visit the British Red Cross website for more information on first aid skills here-

The free first aid app is also a great way to make sure you have first aid skills with you wherever you go-

Sunday, 15 April 2018

David Potts- a community champion

I recently spent an enjoyable afternoon at Walwick Hall, celebrating some of the winners of my Hexham Constituency Community Champion Awards. Started last year, and sponsored by Gareth Jones at Red Hot Property, the awards recognise the extraordinary achievements of people in the Hexham constituency. 

One of the winners who attended the event at Walwick Hall was David Potts. David is a stalwart of the community in Heddon-on-the-Wall and was nominated by Heddon residents for his years of service to the village. David works tirelessly for local organisations, including St Andrew’s Church in Heddon, and is always willing to do whatever he can to help neighbours and residents in the village. It was great to be able to show David how much he is appreciated by everyone in Heddon- he is thoroughly deserving of the award.

I look forward to sharing more information about the achievements of other Community Champions in the coming weeks.  

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Talking Matters

No one is immune from mental health problems, and I am so pleased that Talking Matters Northumberland, a service offering free psychological treatment, support and recovery for people in Northumberland suffering from mental health related problems, will be attending my Spring Information Fair next Friday. Talking Matters Northumberland aims to provide quick and free access to personalised treatment for difficulties such as depression, anxiety and stress. The service is now also holding drop-in events across Northumberland to provide additional support. The drop-in sessions take place weekly in locations including Hexham (Tuesdays, 10am-2pm, Ethelreda room at Hexham Abbey) and Prudhoe (Mondays, 10am-1pm, The Spetchells centre), and are a great opportunity to meet people in similar situations. Anyone is welcome to attend- for more information visit

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Representing England, representing Hexham

I would like to congratulate David Cumberlidge from Hexham who has won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games as part of the men's 4x100m freestyle relay team. David swam the first leg, helping the team to finish second behind hosts Australia. David also competed in the men's 50m freestyle, but unfortunately just missed out on a medal, finishing in 4th place. Swimmer Emily Large from Ponteland is also enjoying success at the Games, competing in the 100m butterfly semi final and the 200m butterfly final.

It is great to see local athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games, and I wish the best of luck to all athletes for the rest of the Games.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Your First Job

Two of my key interests are helping to support young people with the move into work and meeting constituents who are looking to help others.

These two interests came together recently when I met businessman Mark Blayney who has written ‘Your First Job’, a guide for school leavers, apprentices and graduates to making a success of the transition from education to employment and the early years of their career.

Not only has Mark produced the book, but he is aiming to make it available to students across the country by running a Crowdfunding campaign from 2nd April to 13th May to support the distribution of free career service reference copies for over 9000 educational establishments. Full details can be found here-

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Information about my rearranged Spring Information Fair

My Ageing Well Spring Information Fair will finally take place on 20th April. Postponed last month due to the chaos caused by the ‘Beast from the East’, the event is being held at St Mary Magdalene Church Hall in Prudhoe from 10am-12pm and will be attended by local community groups, charities, businesses and government bodies that serve or help older people. The Fair is being held in association with Ageing Well and Northumberland County Council, and I would encourage everyone- including family, friends and neighbours- to come along and find out all about health, wellbeing, benefits and local activities for older people. Free admission, and free refreshments for everyone attending. 

For more information please contact or call 01670 789161.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Europe's toughest ivory ban - introduced by the UK Government!

This week the Environment Secretary Michael Gove made the announcement that the UK will introduce a ban on ivory sales. The proposed ban will be the toughest in Europe and amongst the toughest in the world and will help to protect elephants for future generations. The move follows a consultation which had more than 70,000 responses with over 88% in favour of the ban. The UK has long been a global leader in the international fight against the illegal ivory trade. But over the last decade the number of elephants has declined by almost a third and around 20,000 a year are still being slaughtered due to the global demand for ivory- showing there is still more to be done. The UK recently called for EU member states to ban commercial trade in raw ivory- which is already banned in the UK- within the EU as soon as possible.

I welcome this announcement, which confirms the Government’s commitment to halting the heart-breaking decline in Africa’s elephant population in recent years. We need to leave our planet in a better state for the next generation, with stronger protections for animal welfare.