A gathering like no other as residents line up to take part

Morpeth Gathering 2013
Morpeth Gathering 2013

A WARM welcome was given to hundreds of visitors from near and far as they flocked to the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering.

The annual festival of Northumbrian traditions began on Friday and crowds continued to attend its many events, workshops and activities throughout the weekend.

There were visitors from across the region, as well as some from Yorkshire, Shropshire, East Anglia, Surrey, Wales and Scotland, and even further afield from France, Germany and Minnesota in the United States.

Gathering Chairman Kim Bibby-Wilson said: “There was a colourful, warm welcome on the streets of Morpeth.

“Having just returned home, Lord Collingwood was looking down on the performances in the Town Hall from his plinth and no doubt he was pleased with the lovely sights and sounds of people enjoying themselves.

“The good weather on Saturday brought people onto the streets for the pageant, which is the busiest time of the weekend. The banners, bunting and bells showed the visitors who came to Morpeth the vibrant and friendly place that we know it is.

“There was the air of expectation for the pageant as the road was closed, there were the colourful banners, bunting and flags, people on the market stalls and bells ringing from our historic Clock Tower.

“The Gadgy came down from the Clock Tower to welcome the crowds as the personification of Morpeth being a welcoming town.”

This year’s themes for the Gathering were the role of women in Northumberland and Suffragettes, in honour of Emily Davison, and the Anglo-Saxons to mark the temporary return to the region of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Both were a hit with visitors, who were able to take in a Suffragette debate led by schoolchildren, an Anglo-Saxon battle courtesy of newly formed group Din Eidyn, or a lecture accompanied by lyres.

There were liars of a different kind for the new Hoafy Trophy tall tales competition, in memory of the late storyspinner and poet Terry Common, which was judged by Sid Calderbank, founder of National Dialect Day.

A North Country Lass concert was a big success, featuring national award winner Emily Portman and modern dancers Star and Shadow.

Seasoned Gathering performers, husband and wife acting team Ray and Lottie Alexander, also took part and commented on how nice it was to be regarded as Morpethians due to their frequent appearances at the festival.

At the Family Concert members of Fligarishon were reunited on the Gathering stage after previously making their debut at the festival.

Entry numbers to competitions were slightly down due to the Northumbrian Ranters young music group being on tour to spread the county’s music traditions to the United States, but there was an entry for the accordion class for the first time in two years and there was the best response from youngsters to the dialect competitions than has been seen for many years. Expert James Tait has been working on dialect with pupils in Rothbury and more than 30 entries from young people were received for the contests.

Visitors and performers alike agreed it was another successful event.

Mrs Bibby-Wilson thanked volunteers and officials for their support.

She added: “The committee would like to thank so many people who have helped over the weekend and with the preparation for the Gathering, but special thanks from the Chairman must go to a vital member of the committee who the general public might not be aware of. There are many people behind the scenes, but our Honorary Treasurer Janet Brown does so much to keep the whole thing together.

“She doesn’t just help keep us right with handling the books and the cashier work over the weekend, but also helps provide badges, signs, equipment and ideas as we are planning for all the activities.”