A heart of flowers is being laid in the Farne Islands today to launch an annual celebration of all things Northumbrian.
The two-foot-tall heart-shaped arrangement of red and yellow blooms will officially launch this year’s Northumberland Day, and commemorate heroine Grace Darling.
The second Northumberland Day is this year on Sunday, May 27, and gives the county the chance to celebrate its heritage, art and culture.
Today, organisers are sailing out to Longstone Island with George Shiel, of Golden Gate Farne Island Boat Trips, to mark the 180th anniversary of Grace Darling’s heroic actions and launch the day.
They will also have a special celebratory Northumberland Day cake on board, baked by Build-a-Bake of Hexham, plus Northumberland flags that will create a splash of red and yellow that they hope to see replicated across the county in the next fortnight.
Events are planned across the entire county, some offering visitors unique insights into Northumbrian village life and the passionate communities that support it.
Grace’s dramatic rescue of those left on the rocks following the capsizing of the Forfarshire in 1838 is detailed in a Northumberland Day education pack that has this year been created for the use of primary schools. Schools around the county are planning classwork that celebrates various aspects of Northumbrian life.
A lighthouse and seascape also feature on the 2018 design of the Northumbie Awards – handmade, fused-glass awards by local glass artist, Helen Grierson, which are awarded in different categories to those who make a special effort to celebrate Northumberland Day.
Northumberland Day was an initiative called for by Langley Castle Hotel back in July 2015, and championed by the hotel in association with other stakeholders and private businesses before it was brought to fruition in May 2016. Langley Castle’s new general manager, Carla Robinson, was the face behind that initial call when deputy manager of the hotel and she will be sailing to Longstone to lay the heart of flowers on the island.
The programme of activities in celebration of the county day will start on May 18, with a talk about the Blyth Spartans’ women’s trophy-winning football team at Headway Arts in Blyth. The following morning will see a dawn chorus walk in Blyth organised by the Friends of Ridley Park.
The programme continues through to May 31, when the Friends of LV50 – a historic lightship now moored in Blyth Harbour – will be inviting visitors aboard to explore the history of their heritage vessel.
This year’s programme encompasses everything from the launch of new Northumbrian beers and gins at Taste of Northumbria in Alnwick, a special Northumberland Day race evening at Hexham Racecourse and a walk along The Pilgrim’s Way to Holy Island with Footsteps in Northumberland.
Visitors to Beadnell – Northumbie winners in 2017 – will be able to mingle with members of various different village community groups, as they enjoy a fabulous Northumberland Day parade and march through the village, which will feature Northumbrian pipes and drums. There will also be local songs by Village Voices, a Punch and Judy show, live music at the Craster Arms, a dog show, exhibitions on Beadnell’s history and a tug-of-war, not to mention a blaze of red and yellow.
Those visiting Norham village can take part in a village picnic around the Grade 1 listed Norham Castle, a Scheduled Ancient Monument located on the border between England and Scotland and overlooking the River Tweed. This event, running from 11am to 3pm, features a treasure trail, outdoor games and castle tours. All are welcome to take a picnic along and be part of this special village occasion.
In Boulmer, there will be a special Northumberland Day celebration around Boulmer Memorial Hall, including a pop-up café in the hall.
rkharle Courtyard has gone to town with its plans to decorate and entice people to find out more about Northumbrian food and crafts, while the Northumberland Rocks group will be encouraging people to share pictures of painted rocks found in the county, to win a prize.
A curtain-raiser ahead of Northumberland Day itself will be the Marvels, Massacre and More! event at Langley Castle, which runs from 11am to 4pm on Saturday, May 26. This will include a re-enaction of the Hexham Massacre of 1761 by the Time Bandits, falconry, Northumbrian piping and children’s planting activities.
To follow in the foodie footsteps of the World’s Biggest Stottie, which was created last year, a new, super-sized food item – the cheese and onion Noggie – will be created.
Northumberland Day organiser, Jane Hunt, of Catapult PR said: “Community is at the very heart of Northumberland Day and great Northumbrians like Grace Darling have helped shape the community of today, so it is only fitting that we celebrate her legacy in our launch activity.”
“We have some fabulous events to enjoy over 13 days so far, some of which are experiences you cannot usually buy into, so the message has to be to celebrate all of these, give them support and become inspired for Northumberland Day 2019.
“If people do nothing else this Northumberland Day, we would ask them to decorate their home or business with a flag, or wear the county’s colours.
If they are on Twitter, please also use the hashtag #NorthumberlandDay to share what you are doing to celebrate. It’s easy to do and a great way to demonstrate that Northumberland is one community and a proud community.”