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


For more information and updates about the events

Creativity captured through Jesmond’s snapshots

Library hosts local photography exhibition as part of festival. Watch this slideshow by Maria Loupa and Nelly Stavropoulou

Jesmond Methodist Church’s photography exhibition, titled “Photos of Jesmond”, demonstrated local artistic creativity as residents submitted photographs that illustrated Jesmond’s identity.

The entries ranged from snapshots of Jesmond Dene’s serene landscapes, to festival-inspired moments and shots of some of Jesmond’s most iconic buildings.

Chris Coleman of Jesmond Methodist Church, one of the key organisers of the event, commented on the quality and diversity of the exhibition, saying that the entries demonstrated the community’s high engagement. He told JesmondLocal: “The conception behind the exhibition was simply to try and capture a sense of the community of Jesmond in photographs and celebrate it.”

Coleman expressed his satisfaction and appreciation to all participants. Watch our audio-slideshow to get a taste of the exhibition’s photos, accompanied by visitors’ comments.

*As published in


JesmondLocal organizes first Bootcamp as part of Jesmond Community Festival

Newcastle Cricket Club welcomed the future community journalists of Jesmond last Wednesday

On the 2nd of May specialists, students and boot campers came together to explore the community journalism possibilities. It was an enjoyable and mutually beneficial evening; the participants got to know each other better and exchanged stories and knowledge.

The first half hour was focused on explaining the purpose of these boot camps and the role of community journalists in general, by Ian Wylie from JesmondLocal. These meetings are an opportunity for residents of Jesmond to get their stories told, through different media routes.

Hyper-local is more alive than ever; regional news aren’t as local as they used to be, leaving a gap for people who are interested in matters taking place next to their doorstep and not to the other end of the country.

Any story can be of interest to a group of people: from a local street performer to local elections, as long as the narrator is passionate about it. Using online tools makes it possible for everyone to become a storyteller, share their views and experiences. It’s fast, easy and –for the most part- free. Pictures, audio and video can be the story or used as part of it. The possibilities are endless; it just takes a few hours to familiarize yourself with this new set of interactive and shareable tools.

Further on, Adam Perry of Media Trust provided some helpful tips on shooting video, particularly video interviews, with just a camera phone. He stressed the importance of preparing the interview in advance; you should think about where best to shoot the video (light, background noise, etc.), write down some questions, and think about how you will introduce and end the interview. The focus should be put on the story telling and not on getting the perfect shot; it’s all about the message and not the medium that you chose. Practice makes better and these bootcamps are held to prove that people don’t need ridiculously expensive equipment to be heard; simple items used in everyday life and free apps will do the trick!

The second part of the boot camp was more practical, with students and bootcampers paired up and worked in teams to shoot some short audio and video interviews. Students shared their advice with bootcampers, some of whom experimented with video for the first time. One of the bootcampers said “I didn’t even know how to use my phone camera before” and another was enthusiastic enough to immediately upload it on YouTube!

By the end of the session, the teams brainstormed ideas for possible topics. Each bootcamper was left with some advice and the challenge to decide on a story regardless of specific subjects or ways of telling it; it could be anything they find interesting and could be told either through video, audio or photos. A final result should be presented by the end of the last bootcamp.

Next Wednesday’s bootcamp is expected to be even more lively providing hands-on practice. With some new boot campers added to the team, we will be taking a look at the role of social media in story telling.

For those who missed the first bootcamp and are interested in more information about video journalism, you can visit:


*Parts of it published in under the title “Storytellers in training”

or check below:

Blues night gets the festival foot-stomping – video

Oxfam treats locals to night of live music for a charitable cause. Maria Loupa and Charlotte Krol report

Ben WatsonThe 78s and Spanish Battery rocked the opening weekend of the Jesmond Community Festival with lively sets at a blues night in the British Legion Club. The acts entertained the audience with a variety of roots music, ranging from traditional and acoustic blues to blues-rock and Americana.

All proceeds from the event went towards Jesmond Oxfam Books and Music’s Trailtrekker team, who are walking 100km in 30 hours around the Yorkshire Dales for charity on 26th May.

The Oxfam Blues Night is one of many music events taking place during the Jesmond Community Festival. Have a peek at some of Saturday evening’s performances here:

*As published in


Seven deadly housemate sins

Refusing to wash the dishes, blasting dubstep at 4am, never replacing the butter? Sound familiar? We selected the most often committed, and worst, of multiple occupancy crimes. Don’t think they’re a big deal? See if your flatmate agrees…

by Indiana MurphyMatt AspinLuiza StefanovaEmily RaeMaria Loupa,Lauren Windas, andColette Hunter

Playing the sexaphone

There is a massive difference between knowing it happens and hearing it happen through your wall at 2am. For example, I knew of a girl in halls that would have such loud, shall we say, ‘sessions’ with her boyfriend every time that he came to visit, that the poor girls living next to her resorted to pinning a note to her door saying ‘Please keep the sex noises to a minimum during anti-social hours.’ It instantly made her business common knowledge to anyone who walked passed her door. Well, until the girl hastily took it down. Sure it must have been really embarrassing for the girl but if it made her more considerate from then on I would say it was well worth it. Not only is it very disruptive  (a woman was once given an ASBO after a particularly loud lovemaking session!) but also it’s just common courtesy to be considerate of the people you live with, just like you wouldn’t leave the loo without flushing. If the tables were turned I bet you wouldn’t want to hear your neighbours going at it, particularly in the early hours of the morning.

Being a ham-burglar  

There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning only to discover that the family-sized carton of fruit juice you had bought in preparation for the next day’s hangover, or that eight pack of sausages which you were going to devour for breakfast, have been stolen. What’s worse is when you realise that those who have taken it are, in most cases, people who are your friends and who know full well how much it annoys you! Of course, there is almost certainly never any malicious intent behind such an act, but knowing that at the time the culprit was highly intoxicated or that they ‘were going to replace it’ when they next ventured to a supermarket is hardly a comfort at 8am after a night of trebles. What’s more frustrating is that the perpetrator in question is often not subtle or discrete. They don’t take some juice, but rather the whole carton and they don’t have a few biscuits, but instead the whole packet, leaving the empty packet and crumbs scattered across the entire kitchen. If you find yourself reading this and have no idea what I’m talking about, the chances are, you are the one committing the sin!

Not such a goody-too-shoes

On your way back home you find cash in your pocket that your mum secretly gave you before coming back to uni. Some retail therapy is in serious need as some nice spring promotions are, like, begging for your attention! Can’t resist, can you? While walking for hours and hunting for the perfect prey in shop windows, those impatiently anticipated heels that you adore now have a precious red ‘SALE’ label. Your mind is already living the dream of the long-awaited celebration, as these beautiful shoes, that had always belonged to you, become yours. The battle is won. You even imagine how you are going to match your make-up for the night with the colour nuances of your newly-bought treasures…

Guilty or not, in the moment that your flatmate decides your heels would work well for a Sinners’ Friday night out they have taken an important decision. It’s a sin, isn’t it? But what can you do? Maybe the shoes didn’t have your name tied on their fancy spirituality after all. You can do it. Move on!

Tasteless tunes

This housemate is easily recognisable by their bleary eyed stare and multiple ear infections due to prolonged headphone usage. Music, like clothes, is a very personal choice. Both are considered forms in which you can express yourself. However, with music, unlike clothes, sometimes you do not get to choose the type you want. Hearing your international housemate belt out their best Adele impression in the shower can be quite endearing, a constant dubstep beat accompanying your breakfast cereal, not so. This is one occasion when the bass dropping is faced with despair that the song is continuing rather than frenzy on the dance floor. The only way this housemate can be deterred is to start a song battle (think School of Rock). Select a song, preferably something genre-clashing and let the battle commence. They get louder, you get louder. You may lose the friendship of other housemates in the process but it’s a small price to pay for your eardrums intact. Whoever loses has to endure solely the other housemate’s choice of ‘chooooons’ for a week. Just be grateful they haven’t formed a classical violin quartet.

Moment murderer

If it is bad enough listening to your roommate going at it like a possessed cheetah shouting “Geronimo”, imagine how much worse catching the live show could be. Trust me when I say that some things cannot be unseen… Unless you have a kinky and perverted side in you, you will not enjoy running into your roommates caressing their loved one, or while they are releasing their tension in the toilet. Once you’ve seen their ‘happy ending’ faces, things will never be the same again! Just try to knock every single time before you enter a room, and you are guaranteed a scarred-free place in flatmate heaven.

Selfish squatters

Whether it be outstaying their welcome or disappearing loo roll, an extra body in an already busy house can cause tension. Weekend stays are perfectly acceptable, but when it’s every weekend or a long haul visit, an ‘adopted’ housemate may not be appreciated.

With danger of all the other sins being committed by your loved one combined, this sin could be considered the worst of all. Perhaps one of the easier sins to commit – if your relationship is good then it’s sometimes hard to notice when you’re spending too much time together.In a student house, the line between guest and household member can easily become blurred. So at what point do you hint for him or her to start contributing to the weekly Tesco run? It may be a difficult topic to discuss and there is potential for friction and awkward confrontations but just remember: love is blind, but your housemates aren’t!

Chunder blunder

This is probably the messiest (and most disgusting) sin to commit as a housemate at university. With Newcastle’s renowned nightlife, many of us are bound to stroll in at early hours of the morning pissed off our faces. Those unfortunate students may have already experienced the unpleasantness of waking up to a flat covered in vomit, and those offenders are likely to have lied in a bed full of the mess too. Getting drunk and throwing up everywhere will definitely not make you popular with your flatmates and it is more than likely that you have to clean up the mess. This sin is clearly not one to repeat, so you may want to rethink that last shot of tequila next time before you end up in this unfortunate and unhygienic circumstance.

All illustrations: Daisy Billowes

*As published in

Guess which one is mine..!


Region’s media debate their future

Leading figures within the industry, including Chris Jackson of BBC’s Inside Out, Gerry Foley of ITV News, the Editors of Sky News, Johnston Press, the Journal and The Northern Echo, gathered at the David Puttnam Media Centre in Sunderland on the 9th of March to discuss the future of media, with Labour’s Shadow Media Minister Helen Goodman MP being one of the keynote speakers.

Due to the gradual change from one medium to another, regional and local media are facing vast changes and challenges, like the falling circulation of papers and the constant competition for advertising revenues. In order to ensure survival, the regional press must find new ways of engaging with consumers by embracing digital media. They have to be more creative on how to capitalise on the power of their brands online: everything is still on the table, from pay walls to the free distribution model. We shouldn’t hang on terms and labels such as ‘newspapers’ anymore.

The ‘newspapermen at heart’, as they admitted, editors from the first panel agreed that they don’t know where media are going, but they are positive and it’s good fun. Northern Echo admitted that they haven’t addressed yet the issue of how to make money online. No-one has cracked the business model to take the industry forward – maybe only Google knows where the money is. Had they moved faster though, they could have made a big mistake – and MySpace was used as an example to back-up their argument. They refused that the industry is at panic stations, which left the audience wondering how can’t they possibly ignore the pink elephant in the room.

Although a lot of readers are traditional with reduced or no interest in online, local newspapers must evolve to accommodate to every audience’s needs. Everything should be used alongside papers by enhancing it with multimedia elements. We heard that people’s sphere of interest in news is within a 16-mile radius of where they live, making local media indispensable part of the community. Who else can take up local causes like regional titles can?

Sky News launched recently Sky Tyne and Wear, as a way of getting away from conventional TV, Simon Bucks told the audience. His defensive behaviour when asked about figures on money or users, lead to an obvious overall disappointment. Their move of going from ads to subscription raised many issues. Even if it doesn’t make any money though, that is not the point; I guess that is a sign of the future. Those who can afford to produce more online outlets for their brand will survive; because either if the pilot is successful or not, Sky will be considered as a brand much contemporary with a strong online presence.

The issue of PCC electrified the atmosphere; Helen Goodman considered it “failed and utterly discredited” when for Bob Satchwell “it worked just fine for regional and local press”. The Shadow Minister stressed how current rules allow enormous monopolies but don’t support the independency of local businesses. “News is not just a commodity to be bought and sold, local media are not a shop front for international businesses. They are vital for our democracy, as they hold local authorities to account and support local identity and culture. The public want and are entitled to local news.”

Overall, the taste left from the media conference is bittersweet. On one hand, digital enhances opportunities for publishers, increasing appetite for news and information. But on the other hand, a lot of hard work needs to be done. The focus should be put on the content instead of the advertising, which some local newspapers seem to forget. Newspapers must invest in quality, perhaps in a smaller pool of specialist journalists who will add value in the new age. Analysis is what separates print from online media, and if we keep delivering products of an exquisite quality, eventually “the money will follow the eye-balls”, in Satchwell’s words. ‘We might live in a global media world, but life is still local”, so I guess there is still light at the end of the tunnel for local media.


JesmondLocal presents Musical Flash Mob

As community festival approaches, local choirs take to the streets. Watch this video report by Alexandra Carr, Maria Loupa and Nelly Stavropoulou

Jesmond shoppers were greeted with an unexpected musical treat on Saturday morning (21st April) when a “flash mob” choir serenaded passers-by outside Oxfam, Waitrose and Pizza Express.

The purpose of this performance was to raise awareness for the upcoming Jesmond Community Festival, providing a taste of the various events running from 27th April to 14th May.

Chris Clarke, treasurer of Jesmond Community Forum and company secretary of Jesmond Community Leisure, told JesmondLocal: “Many people know about the concerts that are going on inside buildings, like inside a church hall, but unless you actually get out on the streets, a lot of other people don’t really know what’s going on. So the idea is to attract the attention of the people who don’t go to churches or schools.”

Those who participated in Saturday’s musical performance, organised by conductor Jonathan Scott, came from a number of different choirs in the north east, including the Jesmond Choral Group and the Tynemouth Priory Singers. Festival attendees can expect to hear more from these choirs during a performance of Dvorak’s Requiem on 3th0 April, which will also be conducted by Scott.

This is the first year a musical “flash mob” has been performed before the community festival.

For more information on the festival, please visit or have a look on our own festival page here.



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