A celebration of all things coastal to mark diamond anniversary

The Duchess's Community High School musicians performed at the AONB Celebration Concert.
The Duchess's Community High School musicians performed at the AONB Celebration Concert.

A sparkling celebration concert was the fitting finale to a year of events marking the diamond anniversary of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership.

The event, at Ellingham Hall, featured an eclectic mix of music and song, bringing together different generations with a love of the coast.

Andrew and Margaret Watchorn at the AONB Celebration Concert.

Andrew and Margaret Watchorn at the AONB Celebration Concert.

It was also a chance to hear the poems and prose of the Written Word competition winners, which the partnership ran throughout the summer.

The host for the evening was Tom Cadwallender, who worked for the partnership before his retirement seven years ago.

Some of the music had been specially written for the anniversary.

Andrew and Margaret Watchorn, who perform as Pipes and Fiddle, debuted the two pieces: the first, a slow waltz called Longstone (a nod to Grace Darling on the 150th anniversary of her rescue); the other, a lively jig named Sanderling after the birds that dance along the shoreline.

Lily Tibbitts.

Lily Tibbitts.

The Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick played a big part in the celebrations. A quartet, made up of Bethany Kirkley, Palesa Thompson, Lucas Thornbury and Toby Cooke, sang and played beautifully, with a highlight being a modern twist on Byker Hill, a well-known Northumbrian folk tune.

The Creative Writing Group from the school performed a series of film poems – poetry spoken alongside screened animation and pictures.

Freelance poet and Beadnell resident Katrina Porteous also read several of her poems.

And prizes were given for the Written Word competition, with the winners named as: seven to 11 years Scarlett Hodgson; 12-16 years Lily Tibbits; and adult Ali Millar.

Catherine Gray, funding and communications officer for the AONB, who has been responsible for organising the 60th anniversary celebrations, said: “We wanted to give people a chance to share their energy and enthusiasm for the area throughout the year.

“We’ve talked a lot about the importance of preserving the AONB in years to come so involving the younger generation in our celebrations seemed an obvious thing to do.”

Coun Jeff Watson, chairman of the AONB Partnership, said: “For such a small team, the AONB staff achieve a great deal. We’ve had a marvellous evening of entertainment, which has followed on from an inspiring forum.

“Here’s to the next 60 years.”