All set for another Gathering in Morpeth: including update from committee

This year’s Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering will have something for all ages.

By Andrew Coulson
Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 5:35 pm
Anna Fancett and Morpeth Gadgy Alex Swailes.
Anna Fancett and Morpeth Gadgy Alex Swailes.

As well as the in person events, such as storytelling from Jim Grant and Bedlington-based Anna Fancett, there are various online attractions available on Saturday.

There is a full programme of pre-recorded concerts, stories, displays and presentations on YouTube, live Zoom music and song sessions, a pre-booked Zoom dance workshop, a virtual Town Hall art exhibition and a family art video showing how to make crowns and dolls’ thrones ready for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee parties.

The three main concerts – the family show (Silly Sangs for Bairns), the Gadgy’s Delight (featuring music, dialect and tributes to the indefatigable Morpeth Gadgy Alex Swailes) and the Northumbrian Minstrelsy 140th Anniversary – showcase a wealth of Gathering stalwarts and newer faces, including concertina and pipes wizard Alistair Anderson, songwriter Graham Bell, singer Carolyn Robson, shantyman Jim Mageean, singing duos Ken Patterson and Richard Scott and Cath and Paddy Clough, and accordionist Colin Bradford.

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The virtual events end with the evening monologue ‘Elsie Rides Again’ starring Pat Dunn, the Ashington-born stage and TV actress from hits such as Vera and Coronation Street, following up her success in last year’s one-woman show about Elsie, the sweet little old lady with a secret…

Kim Bibby-Wilson, chair of the voluntary committee, has also issued the following update this week:

“There’ll be performers aged from nine to 90 on the Gathering programme, with the youngest Jacky Ashton, aged nine, making his debut performance in the online family concert with a spirited rendition of ‘Whittingham Fair’ filmed on location at Whittingham itself.

“Jacky is a member of the Gubbins family, well known to Gathering audiences over the years.

“Ashington Male Voice Choir is a welcome addition to the programme of online shows. They’ll be singing two local songs on the Gathering’s YouTube channel at 3.45pm on Saturday.

“One is a mining song and the other, Water of Tyne, comes again from the pages of the Northumbrian Minstrelsy.

“Further songs from that collection and the wider local folk tradition can be encountered ‘in person’ by visitors to the Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum on weekdays and Gathering Saturday – the new exhibition just opened there is ‘Thou Shalt Have a Fishie, When the Boat Comes In’ by Bethan Maddocks.

“It’s part of the county-wide displays titled ‘A Northumberland Menagerie’ in venues run by Museums Northumberland. The rafters of the Chantry museum are decked out with intricate paper cut-outs of song lyrics among a school of fish and rolling waves.

“Those wishing to see the live morris dancing around town on Saturday can catch Hexham Morris Men and Black Gate Morris in the morning at times in the Market Place and Sanderson Arcade, and then in the afternoon at the Park Bandstand, weather permitting.

“The Gathering welcomes direct donations towards the costs of producing live and online events, and enabling the annual festival to continue into the future. Please donate online at www.gofundme.com/f/morpeth-northumbrian-gathering

“All programme details can be seen on www.northumbriana.org.uk/gathering – with updates and last-minute changes on the Gathering’s Facebook page.”