Over 250 people turned out to help celebrate the launch of a new programme, the Land of Oak & Iron, at a free family event with live music, rapper dancing and lots of hands-on activities.

The event was held at Blaydon Youth and Community Centre and Shibdon Pond by the Land of Oak & Iron Landscape Partnership, to mark the official start of a four year programme of activities. Partner organisations were at the event, showcasing their activities and promoting opportunities for local people to get involved in projects focusing on the natural, industrial and cultural heritage of the area.

The event kicked off with a demonstration of traditional rapper dancing by the High Spen Pink Diamonds Rapper Dance Team; this was followed by songs from local folk singer Benny Graham, one of the Pitmen Poets. The official part of the afternoon started at 2pm with a speech by John Rundle, Chair of the Land of Oak & Iron, who welcomed the audience and thanked them for coming along. John gave an interesting and engaging speech about what the Partnership aims to achieve over its lifetime, before introducing Gareth Davies-Jones another local singer–songwriter who performed a number of songs from ‘The Seam’, a Newcastle Mining Institute project. Gareth was supported by Felling Band and Prudhoe Community High School Choir.

Oak & Iron

Around the hall, organisations offered arts and crafts activities, a chance to handle archaeological artefacts, signed up volunteers to take part in their projects and local author Val Scully sold signed copies of her new book. Outside, a wide range of activities were on offer including willow weaving, traditional woodland crafts, getting up close to wetland creatures, identifying wild birds and more crafts including making bird feeders, newspaper plant pots and daring to feel inside the boxes to guess their natural contents! Refreshments were also on offer in the café, the free limited edition Land of Oak & Iron cookies were snapped up!

Oak & Iron

The Land of Oak & Iron Landscape Partnership’s vision is to work with local communities and partners to celebrate, conserve and enhance our natural, industrial and cultural heritage. With partners, it will deliver a legacy of job creation, tourism, regeneration and economic benefits.

The Land of Oak & Iron programme area focuses on the Derwent Valley and the surrounding area, following the River Derwent from Derwent Reservoir to the River Tyne, involving Consett, Rowlands Gill, Prudhoe and Whickham. The area has a fascinating natural, industrial and cultural heritage which is at risk of loss without this project. The Partnership is led by social enterprise Groundwork NE & Cumbria and is made up of a wide range of partners, committed to supporting delivery, until it comes to an end in 2020. It has been made possible by a grant of £2.2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Oak & Iron

For further information about this event or getting involved with the Land of Oak & Iron please visit the website www.landofoakandiron.org.uk, find us on Facebook LandofOakandIron or Twitter @LandofOakIron or email landofoakandiron@groundwork.org.uk or call Kath Marshall-Ivens on
01207 524883.

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