Kim brings traditions to life for villagers

Kim Bibby-Wilson at Ulgham WI.
Kim Bibby-Wilson at Ulgham WI.


Ulgham WI was challenged by Mrs Kim Bibby-Wilson, from the Northumbrian Language Society, to think about Northumbrian identity by means of song, music, dance and dialect.

It began with Kimʼs rendition of ʻBonny at Mornʻ. She explained why speech is important to identity and how ʻPitmatic at one point seemed doomed to disappear.

We were treated to recordings of various Northumberland tongues. Northumbrian language is the speech of old English, or Anglo-Saxon.

Kim was wearing Northumberland Plaid, the black and white check of the Shepherds’ Tartan, as worn by the Duke of Northumberlandʼs piper, and it was the Northumbrian pipes that we enjoyed next as she played ʻKeep Your Feet Still Geordie Hinny. Music, she said, was part of Northumberland’s isolation. We were told of the Clough family’s involvement in keeping the piping repertoire alive, and of the opening of Morpeth Bagpipe Museum in the 1980s.

Kim talked about ritual and social dance, the rappers’ sword dance, and the role of Tommy and Betty who were the leaders of the dance, but who supposed to cover any errors made by comic turns. She donned her clogs, originally a wooden-soled working shoe, to demonstrate the Rant.

She enlightened us about customs connected with the social calendar, such as dressing the last sheaf of corn, Walton Midsummer bonfire, haystack ornaments and recipes, such as stottie cakes and Singing Hinnies. Identity then is to do with regional pride.

It is also to do with moving traditions on, and Kim reminded us of the celebration of culture in the Morpeth Gathering, from April 10 to 12. Dialect, music, song and dance, all deeply rooted in Northumberland.

What a wonderful evening with an extremely knowledgeable and talented lady.