Rothbury gears up for Coquet Valley defibrillators fundraiser

Each time the bells sound at Rothbury, it will be to celebrate the raising of another £1,000 to buy life-saving defibrillators for the Coquet Valley

Andrew McCoull from Anderson & Garland with Ringtons archivist Fiona Harrison
Andrew McCoull from Anderson & Garland with Ringtons archivist Fiona Harrison

The church bells in a Northumberland village will soon be ringing out on a regular basis.

Each time the bells sound at Rothbury, it will be to celebrate the raising of another £1,000 to buy life-saving defibrillators for the Coquet Valley.

The occasion on Sunday, June 29 will be the Vintage Rothbury event - one of the biggest happenings in the village for years.

Around 75 local organisations are contributing to Vintage Rothbury, from the mouth of the River Coquet at Amble and Warkworth to the remote uplands.

The project began when Rothbury Women’s Institute was revived in December after an absence of 13 years. It now has 82 members.

The WI was approached by the North East Ambulance Service to help raise funds for the provision and installation of a £2,000 defibrillator in Rothbury.

The WI decided to stage the Vintage Rothbury event, with each £1,000 raised being matched by the Stephen Carey Fund, in memory of the 21-year-old Northumberland footballer who collapsed and died from an undiagnosed heart defect during a game.

The WI quickly raised £3,000 and is now aiming for another £7,000 to prove defibrillators to cover the entire valley.

On June 29 there will be more than 30 activities at 20 locations in Rothbury, including more than 60 vintage and craft stalls, 40 vintage vehicles, a pop up museum by Alnwick’s Bailiffgate Museum, a Second World War-style singer and Rothbury’s Swinging Hinnies choir, and the sale of works donated by the valley’s artists.

Newcastle-based Ringtons is donating the tea and coffee for the vintage tea room and city auctioneers Anderson & Garland will be giving valuations for people who bring in their keepsakes.

Rothbury WI president Kate Holt said: “Vintage Rothbury has become a tremendously exciting community-wide event. It has been amazing how the community has rallied behind this, with literally hundreds of people involved.

“I have been astonished by people’s generosity. Whatever the man from The Guardian says, North East people know how to do things and know how to give.”

Northumberland WI’s archivist, Jackie Wylie, has been working with Rothbury WI to curate an exhibition of women’s embroidery, quilting, tatting and lace making stretching back almost a century.

She told the group about needlework panels depicting the lyrics of the WI’s song Jerusalem stitched in Rothbury in the 1980s that had disappeared from view since the original WI group was wound up.

Now it has turned up at the home of panels creator and former WI president Mrs Sheila Burns and will be the centrepiece of an exhibition at Rothbury’s Congregational Hall Art Gallery.

To launch Vintage Rothbury, Ringtons invited Anderson & Garland’s Andrew McCoull to its head office in Byker in Newcastle to run the rule over the company’s own archive items.

They included a Regency rosewood tea box containing two original internal storage caddies for loose tea leaves and a rare original glass blending bowl.

The owners would have used the set to blend their own tea to their specific taste and keep it under lock and key, as tea was a costly commodity at the time.

A large collection of Ringtons tea caddies and memorabilia such as a suitcase owned by Ringtons’ founder Samuel Smith was also evaluated.

Mr Smith’s great granddaughter Fiona Harrison, who has recently taken on the role of company archivist, said: “The Ringtons archive is packed full of letters, documents, photographs and company papers as well as some of our collectables such as Maling ceramics and tea caddies.

“As I am currently sorting through the archive it was really interesting to hear what Andrew thought of the items. We know we are still missing several items from our history so are keen to see what our customers bring along to Vintage Rothbury from their own collections for our team to photograph and catalogue for our records.”

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