It is over twelve months since the last blog and it has been a very busy year aided by superb summer weather.
A piece of news we would prefer not to have - during the night of Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June the Centre suffered a serious break in. The most disappointing feature of this was not so much what was stolen (although this was quite considerable) but the malicious damage perpetrated by the mindless intruders who damaged seven years' accumulation of donation recognition on the 'Fish Wall', smashed CCTV cameras, fire warning lights, ordinary lights (including street lighting on the promenade) and the charity donated defibrillator. All the telephone lines were cut and much of the IT system was disabled. All this complemented by trashing the office (see image above) and completely smashing a window in order to remove the safe! We had to close on Sunday but we were up and running again on Monday albeit with a much curtailed service.
The conference facilities we offer are much in demand and thanks to our dedicated staff the Breakwater Cafe continues to be a popular place for our regular customers or visitors to have just a coffee or a special Afternoon Tea.
The 7th annual Kite Festival held over the Easter bank holiday weekend has now become a fixed feature of our calendar. Synchronised kite flying demonstrations and kite building workshops were held to much acclaim.
Our reputation for arts and music continues to grow and we have now held ten significant art exhibitions in the Latimer Room which have brought a calibre of art to Newbiggin that is often only seen in more metropolitan centres like Newcastle, Gateshead and Middlesbrough. We are hosting the 2018 Highlights Contemporary Craft Tour. Monthly exhibitions in the Breakwater Café continue to attract considerable interest and provide a platform for local artists to exhibit and we have a programme of exhibitions that extend to August 2019. We have been trying, also, to display local schoolchildren's artwork but have only managed to persuade schools from further afield to participate.
We have hosted a number of events throughout the year including the Newbiggin Festival which had displays by the Coble & Keelboat Society, Stan Green's models of lifeboats, Newbiggin Dolphin Watch demonstrations and videos, amazing displays of Fantastic Beasts produced by various centres round the region and KEAP Creative's Raku Workshop. Unfortunately, the Big Draw had to be postponed because of inclement weather but it is our intention to reschedule it for Bonfire Night. However, the extended Buskers' night went ahead with poetry readings thrown in. Put Yourself In The Picture re-appeared for a bit of fun and the Guerilla Gallery revisited us.
Eliot Smith's Dance Company also performed during the year, fortnightly Buskers Sessions continue apace and we hosted various Music Gigs (including Saturday Morning Sessions in the Breakwater Café). Northumberland Theatre Company's Drama Performances, Clair/Obscur's Necessary Woman celebrating suffrage, very entertaining Poetry Readings (and a choir), Afternoon Tea Parties for senior members of our community and a Cactus Show were all part of the ongoing programme of events for the community and during the school holidays we also held children's workshops and treasure hunts. Film Club has published the 2018/19 programme and continues to thrive on the last Friday of each month.
The Rocket House has attracted hundreds of visitors in its first full year of opening to the public.
We have instigated a couple of initiatives which we are hoping will be well supported by members of the community and visitors to Newbiggin. One is the Beach Clean Initiative and the other is a Purge on Plastic. Our school’s education offer has been redesigned to ensure that youngsters are aware of the harm plastics have on marine life.
We continue to research future projects which will benefit the residents of and visitors to the village.
It is clear that the Centre continues to make a significant contribution to the community across an increasingly wide range of activities. Most of these are organised and run by volunteers and we are always looking for new volunteers. If you could spare some time to contribute to our programme you would be most welcome.