Morpeth Gathering pays tribute to royal wedding

A NORTHUMBERLAND town’s yearly celebration of Northumbrian traditions got under way yesterday.

Harrison Speak, four, of Morpeth, tries on a centurions helmet as part of the attractions at the 44th annual Morpeth Gathering

A NORTHUMBERLAND town’s yearly celebration of Northumbrian traditions got under way yesterday.

The annual Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering began with street shows, indoor events, music, dance, craft, dialect, workshops, talks, walks, competitions and traditional fun at venues around the town and will continue over the weekend.

The event, now in its 44th year, has the 2011 theme On the Write Lines, based on railways, writers and Border Reivers, though yesterday saw the event adopt a strong royal wedding theme.

While numbers may have been slightly down due to people watching William and Kate tie the knot on television at home, many came along to watch the big occasion on plasma screens at the town hall, one of the Gathering’s venues.

Royal wedding artwork sessions were held in a yurt in the Market Place, donated by Morpeth young people’s homeless charity Barnabas Safe and Sound, at which dozens of people designed crowns, flags and wedding charms.

The items they made will give a royal wedding element to the Gathering’s procession to the town hall at 11am today, which will feature 12-ton steam roller Coquet Lass.

Yesterday saw a craft exhibition with needlework and displays of 30 to 40 dressed and 60 shepherd sticks in the town hall, and storytelling sessions in the Market Place.

As well as the procession, today will see a Border Brawl re-enactment at Carlisle Park bandstand area at 3pm, repeated tomorrow at the same time. Tomorrow will also see a number of May Day-themed events, including Maypole dancing at 1pm, as well as a Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May nature ramble around Carlisle Park from 11am.

Speaking at the event yesterday, organising committee chairwoman Kim Bibby-Wilson said: “The royal wedding kept a few off the streets but we had a good influx of people into the town hall to watch it on the screens. The rain has come drizzling a bit. Some of the artwork was brought inside. We are really pleased with how it is going.

“We are gearing up for the main day, the big day tomorrow. We are looking forward to the events over the weekend.”

The Gathering received funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the William Leech Charity.

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