WEARABLE TECH SHOW 2014: TRENDS TO WATCH

By Maria Loupa

One of the biggest European Wearable shows took place in London’s Olympia last week, on the 18-19 March. In this year’s expo, we saw a variety of companies tapping in the wearable market, from smart watches, fitness trackers, face-mounted computers, and smart jewellery. Differentiators depend on capability, design and of course, price. Taking a variety of forms, from clip-ons and wristbands to “smart” onesies, bras and socks, the list was endless.

The two-day conference saw speakers and vendors from around the world. It’s definitely an exciting time for wearables, and we were there getting our hands on as many smart devices as possible.

The different types of wearables covered fashion, sports and fitness, health and M2M, which more often than not crossed paths. There was also a developer hack fest and a business start up track, as well as live product demo and an exhibition, giving companies the chance to show off products to anyone attending the event. Finally, the event also hosted ‘The Wearables’, an awards ceremony recognising the UK’s leading large and small companies in the sector.

Smartwatches and wristbands

Plain and simple, bulky or sophisticated, one thing is for sure:  smartwatches have potential but their success will be directly proportional to how easy they will be to use and of course, whether they are serving a useful purpose. Additional elements would be being fashionable, comfortable and supporting a wide variety of apps.

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Among others, a screen-less, seemingly traditional watch that works with a SIM card and a handful of pressable keys and can both place and receive calls caught my eye. Ideal for a night out without having to worry for anyone nicking your £600 phone I’d say.

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One of my favourite gadgets will have to be the gesture band concept which looks as if taken out of the movie “Click”. Working on simple pointing and waving gestures, with receivers hooked up to appliances around the home or office, its application can expand on pretty much any field but can be incredibly beneficial for healthcare purposes.

Fitness trackers

Smart clothing is a seemingly peculiar but promising area. With a lot of the items at the expo resembling super-hero costumes, the tight kind, it’s obvious that the focus is on tracking and feedback based on data from sensors close to the body. Tracking pretty much everything that uses current applied through the skin, you can keep track of your heart-rate, sleep, perspiration, skin temperature, stress levels, fat content, muscle strength and so on. The same goes for wristbands as well.

Health-related recommendations are taking a more practical approach. Smart clothes with inbuilt heating system to keep you warm when your temperature lowers; super-thin stainless steel fibres that feel like wool; smart bands that can be snapped around your wrist; UVA measuring wrist-bands that can measure light and UV exposure can support a variety of smart features. Trackers that can be attached on any piece of sport equipment like a snowboard can provide an accurate reading of measurements of each move of an athlete’s performance.

Jewellery & fashion

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Fashion is gradually becoming more important in the world of wearable tech, as more gadgets take fashionability, wearablility and durability into consideration. But as the Expo proved, they can work the other way around too, with predominantly fashion items borrowing tech elements. Interactive NFC technology can be used to imbue jewellery and skirts with a personal emotive message, video or photos, while seemingly normal shoes can light up upon a camera flash.

Eyewear & Ear wear

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Augmented reality goggles are definitely a strong player in wearables. From riding a roller-coaster to checking if a chest of drawers you want to order can fit in your apartment, the simple and cool 3D headset along with an augmented reality app held a special place in my heart. From gaming to interior design, whatever it may be that you want to experience, you can basically customise your own virtual reality by downloading the app, sliding your own smartphone across the front of the goggles and enjoy!

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Another notable series of eyewear, brings sci-fi movies to mind due to its design and capabilities.  Aimed mostly at enterprise, it offers hands-free access to information; it’s built around an Android smartphone without the cellular connectivity, camera complete with zoom, responds to voice commands and allows headset to headset communication. Additionally, experimentation with lenses on the inside and the outside of the frame and tiny high-res screens that won’t draw unwanted attention are definitely a great platform for innovation in the field.

What can complement an augmented reality experience can also come from… the ears!  We tried on a smart headset with 3D audio, which was particularly fun when demoed as part of a live concert experience. 3D audio effectively means that you can hear sounds differently depending on how you’re positioned, thanks to location-aware technology. It would be interesting to see how this one evolves passed the obvious entertainment applications.

As an alternative to scanners and QR code reading apps, the concept of a piece of eyewear with an embedded QR code and barcode reader was also appealing.

Finally, nano-coating technology seems to be a definite emerging trend. With nanotechnology applied to the inside of devices that can protect electronics from failure due to full submersion in water and other corrosive liquids. This advancement can have many applications, including potentially a solution to the overheating and prolonging life span of computers.

Final thoughts

The majority of the gadgets at the Expo are already available at the market or being released after May this year. Eventually, we’ll see a retail price tag on most of them. With more and more big and small companies involved, the pressure will be on releasing a competing product from every aspect.

However, the real challenge with wearables would be to show some real end-user benefit. While the focus is largely put on the technology, a lot of these devices are taking tracking and measurement a step further. It will be interesting to watch the developments on how the data will be gathered and interpreted to enhance customer experiences.

*As it appeared on http://www.techbm.co.uk/wearable-tech-show-2014-trends-to-watch/.

For more information on the Wearable Technology show you can visit http://www.wearabletechnologyshow.net/.

 


Digital Communication Awards 2013

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It’s been a while.. Since the last time I blogged, a lot has happened. The most significant change being that Tales from the North East moved South- I moved from Newcastle to London, therefore the name of this blog had to be changed slightly!

Another very, very important thing that happened in this time, is that I was shortlisted for a Digital Communication Award for my master thesis,  “Social media in the Public Sector: Hit or Miss? A comparative study on the effectiveness of social media as a PR tool”, which I consider a great honour and true testament that if you love what you do, great things can happen.

Hosted by the Quadriga University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, the Digital Communication Awards are the first awards in European PR and communications that exclusively honour outstanding achievements in online communication. There are 38 award categories that cover all disciplines from social media communications to digital public affairs and explore the full range of the profession, providing a comprehensive look at exemplary best cases. 

In its third year, almost 600 applications from 38 countries were submitted for the Digital Communication Awards, and we all presented our digital communication projects and campaigns to an international jury. Unfortunately, due to a series of unfortunate events, I was unable to showcase my work in the way I would have wanted to.

However, overall it was a great experience and I can’t thank Quadriga University enough for their kind invitation and impeccable hosting. Meeting a “jury of legends” -as they were called in my head- was humbling and thrilling at the same time. A massive thank you should also go to Northumberland & Monmouthshire County Councils, as well as many UK PR professionals who contributed to my research.

The gala ceremony was hosted at Berlin’s Meistersaal. Stars like David Bowie, U2 and Depeche Mode once turned the stunning Meistersaal into a modern legend. The charming presenter Hadnet Tesfai led through the evening, making every winner feel comfortable on stage and the show unforgettable. The event itself was a great opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people within the PR and Communications industry from around the world and talk about their work and their -shortlisted or winning- campaigns.

The experience of joining the Awards this year benefitted me more on an academic level- a few days after the ceremony, I was contacted by a person working on a project in the Energy Sector of US Government, interesting in my research. In my opinion, sharing best practice is one of the best things that one can do, that is why I was not only flattered but truly interested in helping. Digital media strategies in the public -and energy sector- is a very intriguing matter and to see more and more people looking into it is a massive step forward. As an extension to this, I was also invited to speak to a conference in Canada next year, and hopefully I will be able to share some information in the immediate future.

Going back to the event, do I wish I’ve done certain things differently? Every day. Would I do it again? Absolutely. And better.

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For more information on the awards, you can visit http://www.digital-awards.eu/.

You can download the complete list of the winners 2013 here.


Local market lovin’

Here’s a guest post by one of our PR interns Maria (@mpfalangi) who has spent the last year working with our team. I blogged about our interns ages ago (see here) and they’ve proved a real breath of fresh air. Now that they’re about to leave we’re really going to miss them. Here, Maria talks about one of the projects she’d been working on.

Who doesn’t love a good local market? This fortnight is an opportunity for both traders and shoppers to be part of something bigger.

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Background
Northumberland’s markets are taking part in the 2013 national Love Your Local Market campaign which is led by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) and backed by Central Government and the wider market industry.

The idea for a National Market Day (which morphed into the Love Your Local Market fortnight) was one of the 28 recommendations of the Portas Review into the future of the UK’s High Streets. Love your local market is a celebration of local markets in the UK, bringing old and new traders together under the same brand.

The council is supporting the campaign, which is in its second year and is running for two weeks from May 15 to May 29. The fortnight aims to attract new market traders and to highlight the importance that markets play in the heart of the local community, not only for retail but as a valuable community asset that provides a focal point of many of the county’s town centres.

Where we are now
National Market Fortnight in Northumberland is celebrated in many ways: budding entrepreneurs had the opportunity to try out market trading for just a tenner to provide opportunities for new and start-up businesses. A number of free pitches were also available at Northumberland markets to small business owners who want to make their mark in the market and bring a new product to the towns’ shoppers.

Through a scheme called First Pitch, candidates were asked to submit an idea for a product or service that they thought they could sell at their local market. Small business owners of the future could trade on any market in Northumberland for up to 12 months at discounted rent and be given personalised support from the NMTF.

Graham Wilson OBE, chief executive of the National Association of British Market Authorities stated that their intention was to make Love Your Local Market 2013 the biggest and best market campaign the UK has ever seen. Indeed, the campaign has smashed all expectations with over 660 markets participating this year, creating nearly 3,000 events across the country during LYLM 2013.

The campaign
Love your local market is helping the high street evolve, nurturing new generations of entrepreneurs and bringing fresh ideas and new faces into local markets.

But it isn’t only about giving a start to a new generation of retail entrepreneurs. It’s about celebrating the role of markets in sustaining town centres and communities. They have a key role to play and can be a significant economic driver in the success of a town, as they help to increase footfall and bring extra business to the town, benefiting the local traders and complementing what’s already available.

Shopping at a local market is a social experience, a far cry from a rushed trip to a supermarket. Markets have the power to bring new life to an area and showcase wonderful rural products, which all need our support. From fresh fruit and vegetables to the finest fabrics – Northumberland’s markets have something for everyone!

So why not rediscover your local market this fortnight? Bag yourself a bargain, while at the same time helping to support your local town. New products are also always welcome as they are a breath of fresh air and Northumberland County Council’s award winning markets support new traders all year round.

Need any help deciding which market to visit? Get a taste of Northumberland’s markets (with pictures, location and product details, even vacancies) or visit our dedicated Pinterest board.

*As published in http://adaywithoutoj.com/2013/05/23/guest-post-local-market-lovin


Facebook versus Twitter in the public sector

Maria Loupa has created this insightful infographic exploring the use of Facebook and Twitter in the public sector as a means for Councils to connect directly with their audiences. It is based on her experience working in various local authority roles in the UK.

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The infographic was created using easel.ly. Its a neat cloud based service for building online graphics.

About the author
Maria Loupa is a communications intern at Northumberland County Council. She is a highly motivated communications practitioner and advocate of social media as a means of audience engagement. You can connect with her via her blog Tales from the North East, LinkedIn or Twitter @mpfalangi.

*As published in http://wadds.co.uk/2013/03/13/guest-post-facebook-versus-twitter-in-the-public-sector/


Tips on social media for local government

 

In some cases local government and social media don’t mix. Many councils haven’t been actively using Facebook and Twitter and that has to change. It can be a long and complicated process. Here are some tips to get you started.

by Maria Loupa 

Plan ahead

  • It is vital to understand that SM should form part of an overall comms plan

A comms strategy should be already in place and social media will be integrated gradually into it.

You need to comprehend the mentality behind each channel; each organisation is completely different and tools need to be customised to its needs. You need to experiment and see what works; different tools might apply to particular campaigns.

  • You need to consider your social media involvement carefully; once you decide to go for it, you have to go all the way.

As we recently heard from #RUDay ‘You can’t be half pregnant’. If you are not prepared to put the resource and effort behind social media, maybe it’s not for you. Lack of time shouldn’t be an excuse, as social media are gradually becoming part of the press office duties at the very least. Tweetdeck, Sendible and the likes can be used to schedule posts.

Don’t forget that social media channels have to run as a constant campaign, which is occasionally customised to each project’s purposes; messages have to be consistent and coherent and a combination of the tools helps achieve best results.

  • There has to be at least one devoted social media person able to understand how social media work, and you might want to start considering implementing a social media policy or guidelines for the rest of the staff as well.

Tweets and posts can for sure be deleted, but once they go live they can be retweeted and shared, and there’s no recovering them. Also, people respond best to authentic communication; so it’s advisable to use a more personal tone even on official profiles- in moderation-.

Keep in mind that it is best not to have more than 3 accounts in each channel because it will be hard to keep them regularly updated, plus it will confuse people and discourage them from using them

  • Evaluation and measurement

Evaluation is part of the planning procedure; what is the point of implementing a strategy if you can’t measure whether it’s effective or not? The key principles of social media presence are: Listen, Measure Understand and Engage, and you will definitely need an evaluation and measurement tool to follow them. The list is endless, you just have to find which one works for your organisation:  Google analytics, Tweetstats, Backtype, Nearbytweets Netvibes Social Oomph, Radian6, Sprout social, Hoot suite, Google Insights, Social Mention,  Sysomos… even Facebook Insights can get you started!

Most of them can produce reports, conduct comparison with competitors, search conversation history, etc. and give the opportunity to:

i.         check the competition- see how other councils are doing; there is hardly any virgin birth anymore, so why not see what worked best for someone else and give it a try.

  ii.         Monitor conversations about your council; what is your audience and what do they say about you? You could even use Twitter’s much under-estimated Search feature for that.- Understand your audience in order to be able to engage with them effectively.

Practical tips

Facebook:

  1. Works best to promote future events/announcements, as it allows more long-term involvement on thread.
  2. Competitions/surveys are also most effective on Facebook, as it allows for more visual elements; an image is more powerful and will generate much more click-troughs than plain text.
  3. The first few lines are the most important ones; hook your audience, use capitals, slogans & abbreviations if necessary to keep their attention and click through to read more. If you are including a link (esp. to link back to your website or your other social media channels), make sure it’s within these lines.

If the link is too long or confusing use a Bitlly or Tinyurl to shorten links and make them more memorable. Customising links will make evaluation easier too as they can be better used by the relevant tools; by allowing you to access analytics and see how many people are clicking on your links. This is information that you often wouldn’t have access to when posting links on social channels.

4. There is a time and a place for everything. Avoid posting to Facebook after 8 p.m. and before 8 a.m., and on the weekend.

Links posted from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. result in the highest average click through, with the peak time of the week being Wednesday at 3 p.m.

5. Communicate information without spamming; the last thing people want is log on to Facebook to find an endless line of posts from the council on their Timeline; they will most likely either unlike the page or they can now customise their settings to hide updates from your pages.

 For Twitter:

  1. The old KISS rule applies (Keep it short and sweet) – Tweets must be under 140 characters, however try and keep it around 120/125 to allow for re-tweets.
  2. Use abbreviations where possible to avoid wasting characters- use figures and symbols where possible.

Sometimes grammatical sins have to be committed, but due to the nature of the organisation they have to be kept at a minimum- opt for most widely used abbreviations instead of making new ones up!

Twitter works best with real time events/announcements and a more Q & A approach, and can be very effective to start conversations and initiate two-way communication. Since it is by nature much faster paced than Facebook, it is possible for people to skim past tweets and miss them. In order to tackle that and remind to your audience of an event, it is advisable to tweet about it multiple times with slight word variations but in moderation- avoid spamming.

3. Use dedicated hash tags for specific campaigns, or whenever you consider it appropriate, in order to increase the visibility of your tweets

4. Part of Twitter savoir-faire- If you retweet someone, add RT; if you RT  and edit it change the RT to MT

5. The best time to post to Twitter is in the afternoon, early in the week—from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.The peak traffic times, are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Last but not least, both Facebook and Twitter can be used to drive traffic to the website and as excellent customer service tool.

Any feedback or additional thoughts will not just be welcome but appreciated!

Maria Loupa is comms intern at Northumberland County Council.

*As published in http://twoheads.squarespace.com/comms2point0/2012/12/20/tips-on-social-media-for-local-government.html


Britain In A Day: Uncovered


The project

On Saturday 12 November 2011, a diverse range of British people responded to a call by the BBC to turn the camera on themselves and their everyday life. For the first time, even film captured on mobile phones could not only be of an almost professional standard, but of broadcastable quality.
The result? A 90-minute film directed -which in this case means edited-by BAFTA winner Morgan Matthews, executively produced by Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald, which offers a candid look at 21st-century life across the UK, crafted from over 750 hours of footage, including 11,526 clips submitted to YouTube.
Following on from the feature film Life in a Day, Britain in a Day is an extraordinary project telling the fascinating story of the British public in their own words, while being an example of the crowd-sourced film phenomenon. The difference between the two films lies in their global vs national character; the first included clips from around the world, in an attempt to underline the similarities of all humanity. Britain In A Day’s goal was that the resulting film and on-line archive would be a powerful and moving snapshot, a specific moment in time which separates Britain in A Day from most reality-based documentaries.

This captivating self-portrait of Britain is a meaningful project, which fulfilled a need of people to allow others into their lives and offer a remarkable insight into their thoughts, fears and hopes and be part of something bigger. Although the individual videos might be seemingly insignificant, when put together they become a powerful and overwhelming piece, so much more than a film.

For more information,

http://www.bbc.co.uk/britaininaday

You can also follow Britain in a Day on Twitter using #BritaininaDay and  join the conversation http://twitter.com/BritainInADay

The process

BBC Learning was looking for people from right across the country to help select and archive clips from their local area on the BBC2 Britain in a Day project; it was an opportunity to create a time capsule for the future. As an extension of the project, the BBC has partnered with universities from around the UK to create a permanent on-line Britain in a Day archive; a number of multimedia/journalism students were selected from each university to participate.

The chosen students would work to the following brief and outcomes:

• Watch all videos submitted in their region and to assist the BBC in reviewing the crowd sourced footage for compliance
• Curate their region’s showcase of approximately 200 clips which comply with BBC guidelines and have any required guidance or warning labels suggestions.
• Provide a top 10 curated clips playlist, with commentary telling a story about their region, and provide their own version of Britain in a Day through compiling a playlist of 10 films
• Contribute to a blog/social media about their regions selection, how they chose the clips, how they were edited, their thoughts and feelings on the archive.
• 2 students from each university were invited to their local radio station in conjunction with their regions archive launch to be interviewed about their clip selection.On the 29th of each month starting with June, 2-3 regions went live on the archive.
You can see the films that were submitted to the project, as well as the full-length versions of films featured in the BBC2 programme by visiting the archive here:

http://www.youtube.com/britaininaday

http://bit.ly/BIAD_pl

BBC Open Day

BBC held an industry open day event on the 12th November (the anniversary of the project) at Media City UK in Manchester to celebrate the completed gallery (24 playlists in total). All partners involved in delivering the project were invited to come along and travel expenses were covered by the BBC. The event consisted of 3 sessions, combining the opportunity to speak to staff as well as putting our skills into practice. The outcomes from the day are described shortly below for those who couldn’t join us on the day.

The 3 sessions were:

1. Elevator pitching

Working to a brief in order to prepare a pitch and present to the people who make the decisions.

Pitching to a panel of accomplished professional is never easy; it was an opportunity to experience the pressures of pitching and receive on the spot feedback. Thankfully we were creative enough to pull off a unique idea and present it in a decent and hopefully comprehensive manner.

Things to consider before pitching:

• N- Why do I NEED it
Your audience must be convinced that your idea is essential and why they should go with it

• B- BENEFITS
If they do go with your idea, what’s in it for them? What will this idea offer?

• A- AUDIENCE
What is the target audience for the idea? Who you intend to approach, how and why?

• C- COMPETITION

Is your idea unique or has it been introduced before? What will differentiate your idea from the norm and make it compelling?
In general, it’s best to treat it as a hypothesis and define all relevant variables (including the ones above).

2. Editorial policy in action

How  is it decided what gets broadcasted on the BBC?

Having reviewed the Britain in a Day clips we all had an idea of the “flagged up” issues, but in this session the non-obvious factor was examined and we had the chance to see if we had what it takes to comply clips for broadcast. Tommy Nagra introduced the basic points of editorial policy and tested them through a series of practical examples. It’s always better to be safe than sorry with compliance, so make sure to check the few basic and substantial points below:

• Editorial is divided into Legal and Regulation.

• Informed consent- legally, you have to be 18.
For TV etc. and regulated purposes: 16-18 is considered a young person (for topics including bullying, drugs, alcohol, sex). Permission has to be granted by the head teacher or the parents. However, it can be withdrawn if the situation changes; for example, if the title is not the initially agreed one, that could be a deal-breaker.

• Audience expectations is a vital factor.
If people are not expecting violence from a specific show/channel they will react; cursing or tolerance regarding racism for example depends on the specific book/movie/presenter. There is a common sense about what is generally accepted; meaning that especially when introducing a new concept, additional caution is required.

• Family or people’s identities in general shouldn’t be exposed without their consent; elements linking to their identity shouldn’t be mentioned or implied.

• Endorsing should be avoided when discussing especially sensitive matters like drugs, alcohol etc.

• Releasing a story can lead to personal implications. For example, someone could lose their job if they aren’t in the right state of mind to be filmed; and even if they are, they could still lose their job anyway for mentioning sensitive topics!

3. Meet the staff

The final part was a 1 hour session with members of BBC staff-journalists, producers and researchers- sharing their experiences and offering tips and advice about getting into the industry, followed by a Q&A in order to find out what it takes to get a dream job.

Gordon Burns narrated how he made his way into journalism, during the era of Rolling Stones and sexual freedom. Things were different back then and it took hard work and guts to get into the job. He created a school magazine and “managed” to get it banned due to school regulations, which made the issues “sell like cupcakes”. After this he realised what he wanted to do and after hunting a job at the Belfast Telegraph, it escalated from there.
Burns underlined the importance of luck, which appeared to be on his side. Above all you need to bring yourself to a position to get that luck and make something for yourself by constantly trying to prove what you are capable of. Luck can help you get one foot at the door, but the other one will come with hard work. Social media and the web might have hardened the game, but some rules still apply.

  • When preparing for an interview, do your homework

Each organisation is different so take the time to research its background and the people you will potentially speak to. You must be prepared for whichever interview and really want the job-or at least act really well like it!-; always show your passion. You have to be keen, bright and enthusiastic about what you do; creative ideas/thoughts in particular are gold for TV.

  • Programme making requires in depth research

Sometimes you need to take a step back and shadow someone for a while, watch what they do and how they do it in order to improve your skills; always be willing to learn new things. Know how to behave, don’t hustle people too much, make suggestions, offer help, and get as much work experience as possible.

  • Try to network as much as possible; after all, the best jobs are not the ones advertised.
  • Establish yourself after university with work experience, develop and perfect your skills.

Multi-tasking is a necessity for the media professional of today; you must be able to report, shoot videos, record sound and take great pictures, so it’s best to move around in order to gain new skills. If the question is to specialise in something or not, be aware that specialising might close doors in the sense that many people will be after that one job; but if you broaden your skills you automatically broaden your job horizons and are more likely to get a job. Multi-tasking is key and can be the factor that will set you apart from the crowd.

  • With the rise of technology and hence, community journalism, everyone is a journalist in a way

What differentiates journalists is their credibility. Information needs to be checked, especially in the online times we live in; check check and check again, as there is no excuse for inaccuracy. A good practice is to have two credible sources, independent to each other in order to fact-check information.


Newcastles of the World 2012

Visitors from a dozen different Newcastles will gather in the original Newcastle in the last week of July. Around 70 delegates from “Newcastles of the World” will be getting together in Newcastle upon Tyne to discuss their branding and marketing and to explore setting up a joint Newcastles tourism initiative, with everyone promoting the other Newcastles as well as their own as a place to visit and invest in.

 John Nicolaou, once a resident of Newcastle but now living in Spain and the man behind the idea of bringing all the Newcastles together, said “I’m delighted that Newcastle upon Tyne will now be host to many of the towns and cities around the world who take or share our name”.

Delegates at the conference will also be taking part in a range of cultural projects that have been in progress over the past few months. There’s an exhibition at the City Library of photographs, films and postcards from the different Newcastles, and a publication of poetry to be launched, with poems about each Newcastle contributed by local writers.

Each school is also studying a different Newcastle from around the world, and they will share their projects with the visiting delegates, as well as making a welcome pack for them about Newcastle upon Tyne. This will be part of a more permanent link being developed with a school from the visiting Newcastle.

An even bigger project is the “Song for Newcastle”. Performers in Newcastles in Australia, South Africa, Germany, Switzerland, and the USA, as well as Newcastle upon Tyne and Newcastle-under-Lyme in the UK have been writing, singing and filming their Song for Newcastle, all based upon the words and music of well-known local song “Home Newcastle” by “Busker”, the late Ronnie Lambert.  Busker’s song, about a Geordie exile homesick for Newcastle, has become a toon army anthem and is still often played at St James’ Park. The different international interpretations of Home Newcastle will be edited into a single version to be performed at the Newcastles conference.

Hazel Lambert, Ronnie’s widow, said “Ronnie would have been thrilled at the idea that people in other Newcastles around the world wanted to take part in this project based on his famous song and to write and sing about their Home Newcastle. I’ve been pleased to support this initiative and I look forward to hearing their versions and the final edit of the song.”

The “home” version of “Home Newcastle” is being sung by Voicebeat – a community choir based at The Sage Gateshead that  explores different musical styles, including gospel, reggae, pop and folk traditions from around the world. Other versions are being sung in gospel style by the Northern Kwazulu Natal Youth Choir choir in Newcastle, South Africa; by a school choir in New Castle, Indiana USA; by a men’s harmony singing group (“Novatones”) from Newcastle New South Wales in Australia; by the Leuchtfeuer (“Beacon”) youth choir in Neuburg an der Donau, Germany;  by a male voice choir in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and with an instrumental version by a youth showband Les Amourins in Switzerland.

The poetry and the Song for Newcastle will come together on Monday 23rd July at Newcastle’s Live Theatre for the “Night on the Tyne”, featuring the poets, with musicians and clog dancers and also Ouseburn Young Voices, a choir of young people from schools in the east end of Newcastle.

Delegates will also be using the time here to create a “proggy mat” depicting different types of castle turrets, with the help of the “Woodhorn Matters”. The Proggy (or clippy) mat is a rug-making technique traditional to the North East of England. The mat will be produced at the Newcastles conference by members of the public who can have a go, as well as by the delegates. Once complete it will be displayed at Newcastle Civic Centre and Newcastle Cathedral before going on to the other Newcastles.

The delegates will be welcomed to Newcastle with a service at the Cathedral on the morning Sunday 22 July, followed by a parade (with children from local schools) through the city from Eldon Square, along Northumberland Street to the civic centre. There they will open a “friendship garden” which is being designed by apprentice gardeners from the Newcastle city nurseries, before going on to the Mansion House for a welcome event with music and dancing from local performers.

Several of the Newcastle will be sending delegates from their youth councils, and they will have their own events hosted by Newcastle’s Youth Council. “We will have a welcome party, meeting up with young people from this Newcastle” said Gerry Hunwick of The Children’s Society. “We’ll also have important discussions between us on the global environmental challenges and how the voice of young people should be heard on this and other issues; about how young people can set up their own businesses and about perceptions of young people in the media”.

You can download the full programme of activities here

Programme

For more information and updates about the events

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