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Are there any plans to approach some more well known celebrities to advertise further?
We have tried to approach a number of well-known North East celebrities, but we haven’t had a great response to be honest. Our campaign group is made up of volunteers and we have no funding so we’ve had to beg, borrow and steal for anything we’ve manged to achieve. Hopefully if the celebrations become established in the next few years, our North East celebrities might look to become involved.
How can folk support before the actual day itself?
We will be having a number of events leading up to the 9th June which I hope the public will support. I would also urge anyone owning a business to try to get involved somehow. If you drink in a pub, or eat in a restaurant ask the manager what they are planning – most pubs in the region manage to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, so it is scandalous if they won’t support our local celebtration.
Has the campaign run as smoothly as you imagined?
We never expected it to run smoothly. We started the campaign in a fairly confrontational way to deliberately provoke a reaction – which it did – and we are still dealing with some of the fall-out from that. However, It’s been fair to say that the local Councils have reacted brilliantly, stepped up to the mark and are very excited to be celebrating the Anniversary. The public and small businesses have been fantastic too. After so much negative press about the North East in the last few years, not least via reality TV shows, the opportunity to display some regional pride has been grabbed by so many people. We’ve been pushing on an open door to a large extent.
If the 150 year celebrations are a success, will there be a need to evolve every year?
I would love to see this grow from strength to strength. Nobody knows whether we will have a small, medium or massive turn-out on June 9th 2012. That will be determined by the Tyneside public. If it looks like there is enough popular demand for a celebration in Tyneside every 9th June, our group will continue to push for one with every means at our disposal.
How do you see ‘Blaydon Races day’ 10 years from now?
Hopefully huge. The most important day in the Tyneside Calendar and one that attracts people from around the Globe to our region. We miss out on a lot of overseas visitors who arrive in Edinburgh and jump on a train to London without thinking of stopping off at our fabulous city. I would love to see that change. We need to attract more vistors and if that means growing ‘Blaydon Races day’ into a 1 or 2 week Festival every June, then so be it.
This can be a money spinner for the region but are there any plans for any further events not related to this one?
Not by our group, we’re max’ed out with BR150. However, both Newcastle and Gateshead councils publish cultural events calendars each year.
Has the council helped as best as they could or do you feel that you’ve hit many brick walls?
The Council are having a torrid time with budget cuts this year. They also have several other important events in June with the Queens Jubilee the week before the 9th June and the Olympic Torch arriving the week after. Despite that though I think the effort they have given to this has been fantastic. Newcastle have agreed to a Centrepiece event at the Monument and have handed the project management of this over to the Sage Gateshead. And don’t forget Blaydon Harriers will be hosting the road race as they have for the last 30 years and the Blaydon Festival Group led by Councillor Steve Ronchetti will be hosting their annual events in Blaydon as part of the celebrations.
It would be great if people join in with what could be a landmark event in the future up here. Hopefully we’ve brought it to the attention of more people and will run some more features in the coming weeks.
Blaydon Races 150 – Further Questions
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