Residents and businesses around Northumberland are being encouraged to make plans for what will be the county’s very first ‘Northumberland Day’, on Sunday May 28 2017, and which could thereafter take place on the last Sunday in May each year.
The news of the creation of an official day on which to celebrate all things Northumbrian comes after 15 months of planning by Langley Castle, which first put out a call for a Northumberland Day in July 2015.
Since then, various passionate individuals and businesses have attended meetings to drive the vision forward, with the most recent of these being held at Woodhorn, in Ashington, with the help and assistance of Northumberland Tourism.
This meeting was able to spread the vision amongst even more businesses and organisations, from locations across the county, all of whom were as passionate about creating a day upon which to express civic pride in Northumberland, and celebrate its history and culture, as the founder members of the group.
A vote on whether or not the enlarged group should spearhead a drive to stage a Northumberland Day in 2017, without any funding but with the goodwill and cooperation of all the businesses and organisations that have been involved so far, as well as many more, led to a unanimous decision to proceed.
The choice of date has been linked to the date of the Northumberland County Show, which will be held the day after Northumberland Day 2017, allowing the possibility of some activity at the showground, but also enabling families to celebrate the new county day together, as May 28 falls in the school holidays.
This is also an ideal time in which to encourage more visitors to explore the county, creating economic benefits from the creation of a county day that can be felt across many sectors, including tourism, food and drink, retail, heritage and transport.
The aim of the group will also be to engage the education sector and have a county-wide celebration of life in Northumberland within schools on Friday May 26.
The week leading up to Northumberland Day is already set to be a celebration of Northumbrian food and drink, managed by Active Northumberland and the ‘Produced in Northumberland’ verification scheme.
Every parish council, community group, business network and business will be encouraged to do something to celebrate Northumberland Day, whether that is flying the Northumberland flag, decorating a window in the county’s colours of red and yellow, organising a street party, or holding a special event.
Tourism attractions will be urged to create special Northumberland Day events, which can take place throughout the period in and around Northumberland Day, so that there is a full week of activities available for local residents and visitors to enjoy. In this sense, Northumberland Day will be part of a seven-day, or longer, celebration of life in the county, both past and present.
Accommodation providers will also be asked to include content about these events on their websites and create special Northumberland Day packages, which will encourage visitors to travel to Northumberland and take part in the celebrations.
The vision, however, is still larger than this. Langley Castle is keen to find a sponsor, or sponsors, of a big event or centrepiece for Northumberland Day that will be a huge talking point and the cherry on top of the cake. It is keen to hear from any organisations wishing to be involved at this level.
Langley Castle’s owner, Dr Stuart Madnick, says: “This is my 30th anniversary year as owner of Langley Castle and I am thrilled to know that our vision of creating a county day for Northumberland is to be realised in 2017. Months of hard work and commitment have gone into this and we must thank all the organisations that have been involved with our idea and helped put a date in the calendar.
“Yorkshire Day has been part of that county’s life for a very long time and our vision is to see Northumberland Day having the same grass-roots support, delivered by passionate Northumbrians who wish to show a pride in their county.”
Whilst the group debated other dates on which to hold the inaugural Northumberland Day, none proved as suitable as May 28th 2017, given the desire to deliver economic benefits for the county and its businesses. In subsequent years, this may change, according to what happens in 2017, but it is felt that the last Sunday in May could be a suitable date in years to come.
Jude Leitch, Director of Northumberland Tourism, said “There is already a fantastic level of pride in our county which is felt by both residents and visitors alike. We welcome the opportunity to celebrate Northumberland and will continue to work closely with the industry to ensure Northumberland Day helps raise our profile as a top UK holiday destination, as well as bringing economic benefit to the tourism industry for years to come.”
Councillor Val Tyler, Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, Northumberland County Council, said: "Our county really deserves a moment in the spotlight and by hosting a day of celebrations this will give us a unique opportunity to showcase the pride and passion we have. It will help to raise our profile across the UK and will also encourage new visitors to come and discover our beautiful county of Northumberland. Our tourism industry is thriving and this could be a very timely boost to the regional economy."
Organisations that have been involved in the Northumberland Day planning process so far, along with Langley Castle, include Northumberland County Council, Northumberland Tourism, Northumberland County Show. Wild Dog Outdoors, Hexham Community Partnership, Newton Hall, Museums and Archives Northumberland, Allendale Forge Studios, Active Northumberland, Susie Doyle Consulting, the Northumberland Theatre Company and Northumberland Wildlife Trust.