Welcome to the Ponteland Community Partnership

Many thanks – Bridleway pedestal replacement appeal successful

Community Partnership Committee are over whelmed by the generosity of local people.

Quote from Community Partnership

“ We were speechless when we found out about what had happened, as you can imagine an immense amount of work over several months by a number of people originally had gone into this pedestal project and we were all devastated by the mindless vandalism – but the response to the appeal has restored our faith in human kindness!.

Thanks to the generosity of a local businessman who has donated the full amount of £1,249.55 required to replace the vandalised pedestal at Rotary Way, the community partnership now have the funds to replace the vandalised pedestal this autumn.

Quote: Anonymous donor “I heard with sadness about the vandalism”

Not only do we have enough money to cover the pedestal cost but have also received a donation from one of the partnerships committee members and £250 presented after a success match at the Rugby Club.

L-R, Rugby Club President Tony Murphy, PCP Alma Dunigan,
Rugby Club Vice President David Comeskey

Quote:  Rugby Club President, Tony Murphy said “As a community organisation ourselves, we always look to give back to the very community that provides Ponteland Rugby Club with so much support.”

It was decided, with their approval, that we could extend our efforts by giving the other 4 pedestals along the bridleway route from Callerton lane to the Airport some extra protection. This work will also be carried out at the same time as the replacement pedestal is installed.

To complete this story, before the installation work can start this autumn the 733 Squadron Air Cadets have kindly offered to tidy up and prune back the summer growth of vegetation at Rotary Way.

Quote from the Community Partnership Chairman

Thank you to everyone who has helped us, make this possible”

Ponteland Healthy Lifestyle Initiative

Cllr Veronica Jones portfolio holder for the County Councils Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018-2020, an agreement between Northumberland County Council and the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioners Group, visits community Healthy Lifestyle Initiative organised by Ponteland Community Partnership.

This initiative open to residents and workers in Ponteland is not part of the NHS, but funded and manned by community partnership volunteers with the medical facility donated by the White Medical Group. Thanks must go to both medical practices for their co-operation throughout these passed months.

At the last “drop in” on Friday September 13th it was recorded that 37 individuals had attended this facility over the 6 month pilot with a 20.2Kg weight loss and lowered BP.

The comments and reactions speak for themselves:

Quotes: This fits in with my busy life having a drop in rather than attending a group for a couple of hours, I just need that little support to keep me motivated

I was made welcome and the advice was very helpful

A good idea to ask us to give the results back to our own surgery

I got a shock about my blood pressure; hope to get it down for next month

Very efficient but friendly and the GP was excellent

Blood pressure down again this month and I feel great – 10 years younger

What a good idea of inviting this community health trainer, I am certainly going to follow this opportunity up and ring the contact number for some help to keep me losing weight.

Everybody has been so helpful

On the last session the Partnership organised a visit from the NCC Senior Community Heath Trainer to assist those attendees who needed support after the pilot had finished. The Health Trainer Service is available to all in need of help to make realistic lifestyle changes that are tailored to individual needs. Health trainers provide personal one to one support with:

  • Healthy food choices
  • Weight management
  • Increasing physical mobility
  • Drinking less alcohol
  • Stopping smoking

If you would like more information about creating a personal health plan contact:

Tel: 01670 623840

Email : healthtrainers@northumbria-healthcare.nhs.uk

If you wanted to know more about how it helped attendees of the Ponteland “drop in” use the www.pontelandcommunitypartnership.com and use the contact page.

The Healthy Lifestyle Initiative, a pilot project is now completed and has been rated a positive success with the community weight lose, reduced BP and BMI all for a healthier future.  The project team was made up of 3 members who volunteered their time once a month to man the health project at the Ponteland Primary Care Medical Centre.

Discussions with both practice managers took place early in August to try and identify how this model of care could continue in the future but the outcome shows there is no easy fix and the Community Partnership will be requesting some support from our MP and NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioners Group for the future.

Partnership produces Youth Activities Directory thanks to students

After many weeks the directory has now been finalised and can be viewed on our Homepage and on the Projects 2019 page. The directory shows regular activities only and where and when they can be found and will be circulated to local schools for students, parents and school use.

A youth survey was conducted at the High School on the internal on-line system with the principle aims to find out:

  • What young people do in their spare time?
  • What they think of the youth provision at the moment?
  • What they would appreciate being provided in the near future?

The questions in the survey were put together by the partnerships Student Advisor, from the High School and the chairman with an aim to keep the survey brief and outlining how the views of these young people would help for a better appreciation of the kind of provision needed by understanding their current hobbies, activities and aspirations.

Based on this survey the youth were requesting 3 things:

  1. A safe indoor area specifically for the youth, where they can meet their friends, relax and enjoy themselves where they will not be judged as troublesome.
  2. A small outdoor area for a kick about for unplanned activity.
  3. An improved system for advertising information on “What’s On, Where and When”

What happened next?

After reviewing the youth survey the partnership tried to find suitable accommodation for an indoor space and an outdoor area even for a temporary provision, to date this is proving to be very difficult. The partnership does not intend giving up on this however, being realistic this is going to prove a difficult task.

The Student Adviser and the chairman of the Partnership decided they could create a directory showing what’s on where and when which would help young people in their spare time. After many weeks the directory has now been finalised and can be viewed on the Homepage of this website, on the Projects 2019 page and will be circulated to local schools for students, parents and school use. The directory shows regular activities, where and when they can be found but not one of events.

A meeting took place at the High School between the Community Partnership, the High School and the Youth Service to discuss the responses from the survey. It is anticipated that a further meeting will take place inviting other interested organisations on the way forward.

What will happen in the future?

The Partnership will be meeting with other agencies to discuss how an indoor and outdoor provision can be sort for the future.

View The Youth Activities Directory

Community Partnership picks up the pieces

You can see why we need your help!

Do you remember seeing anything suspicious around Rotary Way on Sunday 7th July, if you do, please get in touch? www.pontelandcommunitypartnership.co.uk via our contact page

After so much hard work, by the community was put into the revamp of the Bridleway over the past 4 years the community partnership can’t believe what has happened. It has only taken one act of pure mindless vandalism to destroy part of a well loved walk in Ponteland.

The Partnership would like to see the educational pedestal replaced for the community and we have been in touch with the manufacturer to find out a replacement cost however, our group does not have the funds to do this.

If you would like to help by giving a donation or help in any other way please get in touch on www.pontelandcommunitypartnership.co.uk

Bridleway Celebration and Health Aid Step Counts

On the 4th May a celebration on the completion of a number of projects focused around the bridleway from Callerton Lane to the Airport took place with representation from organisations, volunteers, committee members and our MP Guy Opperman. The final project was the installation of the step counts at 5 points along the 2 mile route, funded by the Community Foundation “Out & About” fund. This inclusion of the step counts is an aid to general health and part of a health recovery programme which links into the Joint Health & Wellbeing Strategy 2018-2020 between NCC and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.

For over 4 years the community has contributed to the Ponteland Community Partnership by improving this local facility which started life as the railway line from Gosforth in the early 1900’s, closing to passengers in 1960’s. Over the following years it was used as a path and then a bridleway. The Neighbourhood Plan inspired the initial pruning event 3 years ago, when the steering group proposed the bridleway to be part of the “Wildlife Corridor” and through the examination process it was given this status; identifying the need for open and green spaces as a vital part of a vibrant and healthy community in mind and body.

The final project was the installation of the step counts at 5 points along the 2 mile route. The volunteers are quite diverse, representing the community and 13 local organisations.   Work started with a bridleway revamp, reinstatement of part of the old railway path, planting trees, wild flowers, bulbs and lastly the installation of step counts at each of the educational pedestals.

The Community Partnership’s work has been recognised by being awarded a Highly Commended Love Northumberland Awards 2 years running and has supported the Town Council in the entries to Northumberland in Bloom & Britain in Bloom.

Over the years there has been a significant increase of use from all age’s dog walkers, joggers, ramblers and cyclists for recreation, environmental and health reasons.

Ponteland has a higher than average elderly population with an increased need for safe areas for exercise and keeping fit this is why we are now working with both local GP Practices to promote this route for their patients as part of a health rehabilitation programme for both body and mind. The route is surrounded by fields newly planted trees bulbs and wild flowers with perch benches and educational pedestals showing scenes of local heritage and the natural environment. This is why we are promoting the Joint Health & Wellbeing Strategy between NCC & NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.

Quote from Ponteland Community Partnership “The success of our projects has by far exceeded all expectations and this must be down to 3 things, selecting meaningful projects that the community have got behind, the ability for accessing funding required and the continuous support of our volunteers – who never let us down. We will continue to look for new projects for the benefit of the community and consider other topics that may be appropriate as Ponteland changes in the future.

Cllr Veronica Jones portfolio folder said “It’s really important to get into the habit of regular physical activity and this is a lovely way to do this that is suitable for all ages. It’s a great idea to have the step markers and gives that little extra incentive to the walk.”

Guy Opperman MP said” It was a pleasure to celebrate the reopening of the old railway line footpath embracing the healthy living programme. I was able to thank the dozens of volunteers and organisations who have done so much on this project. I look forward to the next project which I am fully behind”

Counting Steps on 4th May

To celebrate this latest venture come and meet up on the 4th May for 11.30 at Callerton Lane car park where volunteers, Councillors and the Partnership’s supporters like the CPRE, Marianne Foster and Guy Opperman our MP, who is aiming to join us all for a photo.

You may then like to walk the route!

We all need some kind of exercise to improve physical and mental health especially with our busy lives. Easter is behind us and summer approaching fast so why not visit the bridleway from Callerton Lane to the Airport as part of getting “out and about”.

You don’t have to count the steps as it is already done for you. At each of the information pedestals the number of steps to be walked is displayed in both directions and there are perch benches if you need a rest on route.

The counted steps idea has been organised by the Community Partnership with the support of the Community Foundation “Out & About” fund. The aim is to encourage residents to improve their general wellbeing and to provide an alternative to a gym as an aid to health recovery.

This project supports the Northumberland’s Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018-2028 which has a joint duty between Northumberland County Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS). The overall aim is to maximise the wellbeing and health of Northumberland’s residents and reduce inequalities.

Healthy Lifestyle Initiative

This is a new Ponteland Community Partnership pilot project improve general health and the quality of life. This started on the 12th April and is set to continue for several months due to an excellent turn out making full use of a drop in facility to have blood pressure and weight checks at Ponteland Primary Care Medical Centre on the Meadowfield Industrial Estate.

The Ponteland Community Partnership’s Ambassador for this event “Special Jon Gray” was the first to take advantage of this scheme. He commented that as one gets older and exercise reduces the waist expands, so it’s good to take stock and get professional guidance on what to do to stay healthy – I will be coming back next month. All other comments were very complementary.

Why not come to our next ‘Monthly Drop- In’ 10th May, this facility fits outside the NHS but will be hosted by the White Medical Group for all residents over the age of 18 and those who work in Ponteland on the second Friday afternoon 2-4.00pm of each month.

The ‘Monthly Drop – In’ completely confidential will be manned by a medical professional available to check BP and weight reduction or gain; no appointment is required, but please understand this is not a substitute for a Doctor’s appointment. You will be greeted at the entrance of the Medical Centre by representatives of the Community Partnership who will take you to the waiting area and give you a simple record card which you will be responsible for to bring back on any further visits. You will not be required to give any personal details this is purely anonymous and will be kept safely with you.

Get healthy get walking feel the benefits’

This could be your first steps towards a healthier lifestyle, the Way Markers Project aimed to help residents improve their general health or as an aid in a health recovery programme.

No matter what your age or your current physical ability, select a suitable walking distance along the bridleway from Callerton Lane to Newcastle International Airport. Take a friend and your mobile phone.

This is an enjoyable and effective way to improve health and well-being; to relieve stress, increase fitness, improve physical and mental health, and prevent the development of chronic diseases bringing people of all ages and abilities together – to feel great.

The Way Markers Project is linked into the revamped bridleway and has been undertaken by the Ponteland Community Partnership supported by the Community Foundation “Out and About” fund and Northumberland County Councils “Ageing Well Strategy”.

Over the past 2 years, the bridleway between Callerton Lane to Newcastle International Airport has become a wildlife corridor due to the “Made” Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan 2017. Since then the Community Partnership has organised and delivered a series of projects, thanks to the hard work of many volunteers with litter picking, hand pruning, foot path reinstatement, and wild flowers and bulb planting along this route. Funding from the Community Foundation LEAF fund and the Community Chest has also enabled the Ponteland Community Partnership to install 5 educational pedestals and perch benches along the bridleway.

Recent visitors will now have seen the installation of 5 way markers for the purpose of setting out the distance by steps between each information pedestal. They are positioned at each pedestal from Callerton Lane to the Airport along the bottom bar of the structure, telling you the number of steps in both directions still to be walked. If needed, the perch bench allows the walker to catch their breath, take in the view before moving on.

This is all part of a number of projects starting this spring undertaken by the Ponteland Community Partnership to encourage greater community participation in activities and improve the quality of life for those who live and work in Ponteland.

Watch out for more information about other projects undertaken by the Ponteland Community Partnership in the monthly Pont News & Views, view our website: www.pontelandcommunitypartnership.co.uk

Youth Survey carried out at High School – to seek young people’s views

During December 2018 and January 2019 the Community Partnership, their Student Advisor and the High School surveyed Years 9 to 13 about their spare time.

The survey was conducted as an internal on-line system and the principle aims of this survey were:

  • To find out what young people do in their spare time,
  • What they think of the youth provision at the moment and
  • What they would appreciate being provided in the near future.

The Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan had identified an under provision for unplanned activities for young people in 2017 during the preparation of the neighbourhood plan. In late autumn 2018 the Ponteland Community Partnership decided, with the help of their Student Advisor and the support of the Head teacher at Ponteland High School to survey the school population about their current spare time activities with the aim of identifying suitable activities for the youth in the future.

The background evidence of the recent Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan shows clearly the available activities at that time in 2017, since then the play and skate park has been removed as part of the new School and Leisure Centre development and with no youth service provision at the Youth Hut it only leaves Twizell Place for youth unplanned activities to take place. We recognise that on the completion of the new School Leisure Complex there will be more opportunities for planned activities than ever before. The Community Partnership feels that casual facilities should be made available for unplanned activity to help provide healthy physical and mental development especially for the younger generation of our community; who so easily get forgotten.

Youth Past Provision – Play Park, Skate Park, limited Youth Service activities and Twizell Place

Youth Current Provision – Twizell Place

Youth Future Provision – Relocated Play Park with the future of Twizell Park uncertain

The questions in the survey were put together by our PCP student advisor and the chair of the Ponteland Community Partnership with an aim to keep the survey brief and outlining how the views of these young people would help for a better understanding of what kind of provision is needed by understanding their current hobbies, activities and aspirations.

Based on this survey the youth a requesting 3 things:

  1. Firstly, a safe indoor area specifically for the youth, where they can meet their friends, relax and enjoy themselves where they will not be judged as troublesome.
  2. A small outdoor area for a knock about for unplanned activity.
  3. An improved system for advertising information on “What’s On”, Where and When.

What happened next?

A meeting took place at the High School between the Community Partnership, the High School and the Youth Service to discuss the responses from the survey. There is another meeting planned later in the year after the community partnership’s AGM when members will have the opportunity to review the situation.

It is anticipated that a further meeting will take place inviting other interested organisations.

2018 has been a fantastic year for Community Projects

30 young people help the Community Partnership

The Community Partnership thank all the young people who volunteered on a 3 stage event planting wild daffodils, snowdrops and wild primroses during late September and October.

The bulbs were planted from the Airport end of the bridleway towards the village; in total they planted well over 1,100 bulbs and 300 primroses starting on the 29th September when the Air Cadets volunteered to start the planting. This was followed on the 6th October with the return of the Air Cadets who were joined by the Scouts and Explorer Scouts continuing the planting up to Rotary Way.

By assisting in this way the Air Cadets are contributing towards their Participation In Public Events award and the Scouts & Explorer Scouts can use this experience for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold & Platinum award.

Due to bad weather the event on the 13th October had to be cancelled but willing hands on the 16th & 17th October planted more of the bulbs; leaving the remainder of the plants and bulbs to be planted with a litter pick on the 20th October.

Funding was raised through the Northumberland County Council Community Chest and from Cllr Eileen Armstrong member’s small scheme allowance.

All wild bulbs and primroses were sourced from Habitataid they are part of a community of small specialist growers linked to a number of specialist science based UK charities. Habitataid donate half the profits from online retail sales to the “Bubble Bee Conservation Trust”.

This recent planting has all been part of a 2 year programme of events to reinstate and improve the environment along the bridleway up to the Airport, which was an old railway track and now a wildlife corridor. All the trees planted last year, wild flower seeds and now the wild bulbs will all help to encourage birds, insects and small mammals to increase in number by providing suitable food required and a safe area for breeding.

The Callerton Lane part of the bridleway has been avoided due to the imminent building of the Schools Leisure Complex however the Community Partnership is already planning this area for a future project working with NCC and the developer in the soft landscaping reinstatement in around 2020.

Volunteers needed for bulb planting at the Bridleway on the 13th October

Once again the Community Partnership needs your help to plant wild daffodils, snowdrops and wild primroses from Callerton Lane to Rotary Way. Our group, with the help of the residents has spent the last 2 years upgrading this local asset and this is likely to be one of the last stages in the restoration of this wildlife corridor and heritage trail.

We finally decided on purchasing our items from Habitat Aid, https://www.habitataid.co.uk/shop/british-plants-seeds because they are part of a community of small specialist growers and half the profits from our purchase is going to the Bubble Bee Conservation Trust

Volunteers are needed on Saturday morning, 10 am till 12.30pm, on Saturday the 13th October.

If you are interested to come and help please get in touch by going to our website www.pontelandcommunitypartnership.co.uk and use the contact facility to register your interest- we will then contact you with further details. It is essential to let us know you intend to join us on the 13th October for the planning of this event.

The Community Partnership looks forward to you joining us.

Lord – Lieutenant’s Annual Garden Party at Alnwick Gardens, for volunteers and carers on the 13th September 2018

The event was attended by his H.R.H. Prince of Wales where he mingled with over 500 attendees made up of 250 nominees, their guests and dignitaries’. In his address Prince Charles said Northumberland was very special to him especially as he was the patron of Alnwick Garden; it gave him enormous pleasure to attend and thanked the Duchess for the annual event reminding the audience that his parents attended this event 5 years ago at the first Lord – Lieutenant’s Garden Party. He paid tribute to the wide range of organisations and charities and the work they do, very often unseen and unheard but much appreciated.

Background Information

“On Thursday, 13th September, as part of a wider programme of events in Northumberland, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, will attend a special garden party which is hosted annually by The Duchess of Northumberland to recognise and thank the county’s carers and volunteers for their valuable contribution to the local community. The Duchess, in her role as Lord-Lieutenant of Northumberland, invites 250 volunteers and carers from across the county to attend with their partners or a guest. Now in its fifth year, the event is thought to be the biggest of its kind in the region.

Every year, nominations are requested from both the Lord-Lieutenant’s office, through Deputy Lieutenant’s from across the county, and directly from charities, organisations and individuals. Efforts are made to represent a broad spectrum of volunteers and carers who work so hard in Northumberland. Nominations can be made by contacting Jenny Walton or Kerry Ellis at Alnwick Castle on 01665 602456. Charities and organisations represented this year include the Great North Air Ambulance, SSAFA, Tynedale Hospice at Home, Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team and Headway to name but a few.

The garden party could not take place without the significant support of a number of sponsors; Greggs will supply the food and Ramside Estates the catering equipment and staff. Other sponsors include: The Barbour Foundation, Ringtons, Justerini & Brooks, Potts Print (UK) Ltd, Sir Robert McAlpine, Sodexo, The W A Handley Trust, Ward Hadaway Solicitors, Living North, The Chocolate Smiths, Dr A. D. Trapp, The Banks Group, Jo Malone, Fentimans Ltd., The MGL Group, Penhaligons, PIMM’S, Marks and Spencer and The Alnwick Garden.”

Some of those who attended were:

Iain Evans Ponteland Scouts

Alma Dunigan organising Ponteland Community Partnerships ‘Old Railway Line Project’

Frank Harrington organising Ponteland Community Partnerships ‘Old Railway Line Project’

Heather Forshaw Environmental Adviser to Ponteland Community Partnership

Yuvraj Chauhan Youth Ambassador, Ponteland Community Partnership

Sheila & Alan Pagan Organising the annual ‘Edwardian Ball’ – Charity

Lesley Hughes Ponteland Brownies

Sara Pagan Ponteland Guides

Lucinda Porter Ponteland Guides

Juliet Phipps Guides & Rangers

This year the Chairman of the Community Partnership, Alma Dunigan, was one of a number of nominees invited to attend this year’s Lord-Lieutenants Garden Party at Alnwick Gardens for her contribution to the upgrading of the Old Railway Line; known as the bridleway between Callerton Lane and the Airport. Other nominees and their guests represented the ongoing work with local young people in the Brownies, Guides and Rangers. A local charity was recognised for its contribution to organising  the annual Edwardian Ball.


Alma said, “It has taken over 2 years to organise and complete each stage from litter picking and pruning, significant ground work, tree and wild flower planting, installing 5 educational pedestals all celebrating our local heritage. None of this would have been possible without the support and the hard work of the volunteers and the £12,000 raised from a variety of sources. My nomination allowed me to invite 3 guests and they were the vice Chair Frank Harrington, Yuvi our Youth Ambassador and Heather Forshaw who has been our environmental advisor throughout.

Students raise £446.66 for ‘tiny lives’ charity with a 3 Day Event

A 3 day event was organised by 11 students called, Team Jiggy, to raise funds for the ‘tiny lives’ charity. ‘tiny lives’ is a charity that supports premature babies, sick unborn babies and their families to get research and support that they need to stay together during this tough time.

This was all part of the National Citizen Service (NCS) and the former prime minister, David Cameron’s main legacy project. It consists of a 4 week experience for 15 to 17 year-olds to help build confidence and self belief giving young people the chance on embarking on challenges and building skills for work and life. Northumberland has been part of a national programme, supported by the youth service, which has inspired more than 400,000 youngsters nationally to get involved.

This project started with a 5 day residential in Yorkshire making new friends and enjoying plenty of outdoor activities. The second week consisted of developing life skills better communication and building confidence all essential when preparing CV’s & UCAS personal statements.

During the third week the group met with the Ponteland Community Partnership and contacted the Town Council and local representatives with the intention of selecting  and planning community activities that could benefit Ponteland residents and could be used to raise funds for their identified charity ‘tiny lives’

The final week was delivering their chosen activities:

On Monday it was down to the river by the Diamond to remove as much of the Himalayan Balsam from the banks of the river whilst they were in bloom and before the seeds have a chance to be disbursed. Every plant produces about 2,000 seeds, so there was a great sense of urgency to remove these plants to help the river water flow in the coming months. 34 bags of the offending weed were removed in 3 hours with plenty of onlookers including Rory Bremner.

Tuesday’s activity allowed the students to stretch their legs by walking the bridleway from the Airport through Ponteland Park and up onto Darras Hall and finishing at the Darras Hall boundary. Their task was to record the number of steps taken between 10 static points along this route. This information will be used by the Community Partnership for their next project called ‘Walking back in Health’ all part of an aid to health recovery. Way markers will be placed along the route telling the walker how many steps it is to the next marker.

Wednesday was the Fun Day, luckily the rain held off to allow families with young children to enjoy face painting, tombola, cake stall, football shootout, wet sponge throwing and tug of war. All of these activities enabled Team Jiggy to raise £446.66 which is to be donated to the ‘tiny lives’ charity that supports premature babies and their families by supporting them with everything they need to stay together.

Team Jiggy will next meet up on the 18th September at their Graduation at Newbiggin giving a presentation of their project to all the other Northumberland project groups and their families.


The Community Partnership has been very impressed with the young people showing how thoughtful and considerate they have been to raise funds for the tiny lives charity.

Their commitment to improving the river by removing so much weed from the banks, helping the Community Partnership with calculating the steps through the bridleway for our next project and putting on a Fun Day in the Park. They have shown how the youth care and want to make a difference.

Students raise nearly £250 at ‘Family Fun Day’ for future youth project

On the 8th August Ponteland Fun Day got under way, 16 students planned and hosted events including football, long jump, face painting, raffles, tombola and refreshments raising nearly £250 to go towards a future youth project in Ponteland.

The first week was spent in the Lake District concentrating on team building activities then back to Seaton Burn for the second week focussing on confidence building workshops. During the third week the group met with local people, Town Council and the Ponteland Community Partnership with the intention of selecting a community project. The group identified that anti-social behaviour was the number one problem in Ponteland and decided to focus on raising money for a future youth project and ask the Community Partnership to use these funds for that purpose.

This was all part of the National Citizen Service (NCS) and the former prime minister, David Cameron’s main legacy project. It consists of a 4 week experience for 15 to 17 year-olds to help build confidence and self belief giving young people the chance on embarking on challenges and building skills for work and life. Northumberland has been part of a national programme, supported by the youth service, which has inspired more than 400,000 youngsters nationally to get involved.

Team Biccies, as the students were called, experience was divided into 4 stages

  • Stage 1 a five day residential at YHA Grasmere packed with outdoor activities, making new friends and team building
  • Stage 2 five days in a uni-style environment to develop life skills, confidence and better communication; all to boost individual CV’s & UCAS personal statements
  • Stage 3 Working in teams putting learnt skills into practice by delivering a community project, a form of social action of their choice; including planning , fundraising all to make a difference in the community
  • Stage 4 Graduation a celebration of achievements

Quote from the Community Partnership

We only met Team Biccies 10 days ago when they asked what they could do to benefit the community in Ponteland and within that short space of time they met with several people to understand where their efforts could be best used and came up with a youth project. The Community Partnership has been delighted to work with this group, the youth workers and have been overwhelmed by their efforts to raise nearly £250. We intend to keep in touch with the group’s representatives and the youth service when the project has been identified as their views will be sort at that stage.

Congratulations Community Partnership Winning Highly Commended 

The community partnership entered the “Old Railway Line” project for the 2018 awards and was shortlisted for the “Urban Category” of LOVE Northumberland Award 2018.

On the 12th July members of the Partnership were invited to attend the judging ceremony at Alnwick Castle Gardens with Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland where the awards were presented in the Pavilion. This event was compared by Carol Malia, BBC Look North presenter.

The aim of the project was to raise community pride in an environmental asset by improving the natural environment and reinstating the 2 mile old railway track from Rotary Way south to Newcastle Airport; encourage community and visitor use at a newly designated “Wildlife Corridor”.

The old railway line originally built in 1901 and ceased operation in 1960’s; now a treasured route after much needed renovation for recreation whilst still retaining its rural setting.

The track needed significant reinstatement work enabling more community accessibility as the track had narrowed significantly overtime with water logged pot holes, over grown vegetation which had drastically reduced accessibility.

The project was made up of 6 community activities:

  • November 2017 litter pick, clearing overgrowth and pruning.
  • January 2018 Designing 3 interpretation panels to include heritage information on Local Mine, Explosives Depot, original Woolsington Airfield, wildlife illustrations,and maps.
  • February 2018 litter pick, pruning and planting 100 trees.
  • April 2018 Litter pick and pruning.
  • April 2018 Replacing fencing and installation of 3 interpretation pedestals at Rotary Way south and Airport. Clearing and skimming the sides of the track and reinstating hardcore – Ward Bros
  • May 2018 wild flower planting.
  • BBC Newcastle featured “Garden Mania” at:bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d70c.
  • Project supports entry for Northumbria in Bloom and Britain in Bloom.

Quote from the Chairman “This is truly a community award for so many volunteers from 11 local organisations, young and old contributing efforts to improve and reinstate a wild life corridor, which was the original railway line from the 1900’s”.

 We are delighted to have won this year, last year we received a “Highly Commended” and this year the project built on our success from last year. None of this would have been possible without the community volunteering throughout the year with litter picking, pruning, planting trees and wild flowers for all of us to enjoy in the future years.

Thanks should be given to the Community Foundation who funded this project as part of the bridleway from Rotary Way towards the Airport which was the most challenging to improve and with the support and efforts of Ward Bros, who own the land, it would not have been such a success. They contributed manpower, machinery and hardcore to reinstate the damaged pathway back to the original width of the railway line”

It’s great to see more residents using this wildlife corridor for recreational purposes and as we have now secured more funding from the Community Chest to purchase wild daffodil bulbs these will be planted late September. This will complement the existing wild flowers planted this year in the areas behind the display panels and benches. Hopefully this will create a natural stopping place to take a breath and learn more about the ICI Explosives Dept, Prestwick Colliery and Woolsington Airfield.

A selection of comments from the users of the Old Railway Line on 17thFebruary 2018

  • A local elderly person dog walking “This has been a brilliant idea to improve this area – Thank you to all concerned”
  • 7 cyclists (male & female) from Gateshead “ We always use old railway lines for cycling and this has been a great ride so far, we are off to Stamfordam from here and then back to Gateshead”.
  • Two local middle-aged walkers” We have just seen these new pedestals, never knew there was so much local history and environmental influence at our back door; they certainly complement the original ones at Callerton. The information is quirky and really interesting – never knew the Town Moor had been considered for the Airport!” “Nice to see so many young people helping out”.

Radio Newcastle’s “Garden Mania” presenter Marian Foster visits youth wildflower planting on the bridleway thanks to the Community Foundation.

The Ponteland Community Partnership’s project to reinstate the natural habitat on the old railway line went ahead on Saturday 12th May as planned with the youth planting 200 wild flowers for the benefit of generations to come.

Community Partnership’s Aim:

To allow the local youth ownership of part of the “Old Railway Line Project” giving benefit to the community now and for future generations.

The Air Cadets, Scouts and Explorers, 20 in total, who all helped previously to plant 100 trees along this section of the bridleway all volunteered to take on this part of the project once the pathway was carefully brought back to its original condition from the early 1900’s.

Marian Foster, Radio Newcastle presenter, attended the event recording interviews and gathering information for her Sunday broadcast. Heather Forshaw explained she had grown a selection of appropriate wild flowers from Northumbrian seed to be planted in 3 selected areas, 1 of which was a wet area.

Selection of quotes from the youth:

  • I think it is good to help the community
  • It’s nice to give back to the community
  • It’s rewarding and you appreciate it more
  • This is part of my community work needed for my “Chief Scouts Platinum Award”
  • We need to partake in 2 community events for our “Participation in Public Event” Award
  • It’s hard work but worthwhile

Quotes from the bridleway users:

  • Cyclist – This is a great facility
  • Runner – Much better now the path has been improved
  • Walker – It’s good to see the young so committed

The chairman Alma Dunigan said “Last December the old railway track was given Wildlife Corridor status through the Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan a 32 planning policies document – the idea has come from this and the success of the previous environmental project. Callerton Lane to Rotary Way is already a well used stretch of the Bridleway and the Community Partnership wanted to encourage more recreational use including the health benefits for the last part of the Bridleway from Rotary Way towards the Airport”

“When planning – our first task had been to assess what work was needed to encourage the community and visitors to use this local amenity. It was decided that more trees needed to be planted in areas very exposed to the elements and to talk with the land owner about possible work on the pathway and involve one of our keenest supporters about planting appropriate wild flowers. We had already been advised by the local Wildlife Group that we needed to provide additional habitat to the existing environment such as wild flowers creating seeds and berries to support insects, birds and small mammals throughout the year giving them cover to feed and breed.”

Many thanks should be given to:

  • Ward Bros the owner of the land, who donated all the manpower, materials and equipment to make these improvements for dog walkers, horse riders, joggers and cyclists – to name a few.
  • All the wild flowers were grown from locally sourced seed by local resident Heather Forshaw, who is part of Friends of Ponteland Park and without her commitment and enthusiasm with the planting the event would not have been so successful.
  • The Community Partnership is delighted with the level of commitment and volunteer support today and we are pleased that some of these young people can use this experience to attain credit and qualifications – we are all winners.

The final stage of this project is for the installation of 4 perch benches positioned at the 3 educational pedestals, this will happen later this month and maybe in the autumn we can think about planting bulbs.

Neighbourhood Plan gets local recognition and moves forward

The Ponteland Community Partnership welcomes three former members of the neighbourhood plan steering group onto the committee to work as a discrete subgroup to identify suitable projects for the future. Guy Opperman MP takes time out to support the next steps and projects from the plan and Darras Hall Estates Committee recognise the contribution made by volunteers.

The neighbourhood plan document includes 32 planning policies all prepared from community consultations over a 5 year period, throughout this time residents recommended valuable contributions which in turn shaped the final document. Some items could not be included in the plan as they were not within its scope; however some of these were selected as “future community actions” and were attached in the plan as an appendix to be considered by other organisations. It is this section and other ideas from the supportive text in the plan which this new subgroup will be considering later as projects.

The Community Partnership chairman Alma Dunigan met with Guy Opperman recently to update him on how the “made neighbourhood plan” is to be used by their group in identifying future projects.

Alma Dunigan said “This is an exciting well timed opportunity, the plan gives our group flexibility to view new possibilities for projects; this means that the vision of the plan continues and we can consider what else could enhance the quality of life”

Vision Statement

  • Ponteland will maintain its identity as a sustainable, thriving community, accessible to people of all ages.
  • A gateway to Northumberland, which values its rural setting, rich heritage, natural environment and open spaces.
  • It will remain visually distinct and separate from the Newcastle/Tyneside conurbation, meeting the needs of the local population, without compromising this distinction.
  • The special identities of Darras Hall, the historic core of Ponteland village and the small settlements in the Parish will be maintained and enhanced for future generations, making the Parish of Ponteland a desirable place to live, work and visit.

Guy Opperman MP said, “The Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan is a valuable document. I want to thank the Steering Group and all the local community who have worked so hard on it. I hope the Ponteland Community Partnership will now be working with the local community together to formulate next steps. It was a pleasure to sit down with Alma and go through the neighbourhood plan, and I hope that the next chapter will show that this is a great step forward for Ponteland.”

Last month the Chairman of Darras Hall Estate Committee, Andrew Mate, presented a commemorative plaque at the Annual General Meeting on the 26th March 2018; in gratitude to the former Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group represented by:-

Chris Winks, representing the Village.
Councillor Peter Jackson, representing the rural district.
Alma Dunigan, representing Darras Hall.

The Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan contains a planning policy, PNP 4, covering some of the unique features of the Darras Hall Trust Deed which now will be used by Northumberland County Council when considering any planning application within the Estate.

Darras Hall properties need to comply with the Bylaws and all applications need covenant consent by the Darras Hall Estate Committee as well as planning approval from Northumberland County Council.

The community partnership was set up in 2003 to identify the things that really matter to people of all ages who live and work in Ponteland Civil Parish which could and would improve their quality of life.

To achieve these aims we intend to involve the community, businesses, local organisations and the Town Council in creating meaningful realistic projects which would be funded by a variety of sources. The community partnership shares the vision of the Neighbourhood Plan and supports the community aspirations for Ponteland in the future.

To keep up to date with our progress please view the Pont News & Views, which is delivered to you free of charge.

We would welcome your ideas for new projects that would benefit the ‘quality of life in the Civil parish of Ponteland’ if you have any ideas please use our contact page to get in touch or come to our monthly meetings on the third Wednesday of every month, except December, at the Town Council Offices at Meadowfield Court (opposite the Medical Centre), Meadowfield Estate.