Category: County Durham News

Wardens offer helping hand in bad weather

Teams of council workers have been out in force keeping County Durham moving during the bad weather.

Neighbourhood wardens from Durham County Council have been in East Stanley where they visited older and vulnerable residents to make sure they were warm and well.

Among them was 81-year-old Betty Phillips who was extremely grateful when the wardens stopped by to drop off some fresh milk.

The council is maintaining contact with care agencies across the county to ensure people who receive care at home continue to do so.

However, members of the public are also being encouraged to call on friends, neighbours and relatives who may need assistance.

Lee Alexander, the authority’s head of adult care, said: “Many people become more socially isolated when there is bad weather but a telephone call from a friend or relative can make a real difference.

“We will, of course, continue to do what we can to support those who are frail or vulnerable but would also encourage members of the public to contact people who they know who may be at risk in order to check that they are alright.

“We would also remind our vulnerable residents of the importance of staying at home and staying warm, particularly this week when we are expecting extremely poor weather conditions.”

Gritters have been out ploughing and salting priority one and two routes throughout the day and will continue to do so this evening and tomorrow morning as the conditions demand.

Although the traffic on main roads is moving, drivers should continue to drive with caution and allow extra time for their journey.

Clean and green teams are also working to keep footpaths clear in town and city centres and around priority areas such as hospitals and medical centres.

Refuse and recycling crews have been collecting in areas where it is safe to do so but have been unable to compete all rounds. Anyone whose bin has not been emptied is asked to leave it out so that crews can try to collect it tomorrow or in the coming days.

While the majority of schools remained open today, parents are advised to check the council’s website and social media channels for updates as the week progresses.

For updates on all council services, visit or check the council’s social media channels at and

‘For the first time, County Durham’s stop smoking service will give away free patches this No Smoking Day – 14th March 2018’

No Smoking Day is an annual health promotion day set up to encourage smokers to make a quit attempt and this year falls on 14th March 2018. For the first time, Smokefreelife County Durham are set to give away free nicotine replacement therapy patches in five locations across the county to help assist those wanting to quit on No Smoking Day 2018.

Stop smoking advisors will be available at venues in Consett, Newton Aycliffe, Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street and Seaham between 9.30AM and 4PM on 14th March. Quitters will receive one week’s worth of patches for free after filling out a short assessment with the advisor and will then be referred to their nearest clinic to receive further treatment and ongoing support.

Research shows that accessing a stop smoking service and quitting with an advisor makes you four times more likely to be successful than going it alone. Smokefreelife County Durham offers free support to anyone living or working in County Durham.

According to Fresh, approximately 78,696 adults smoke in County Durham and 138,774 NHS appointments are due to smoking. The smoking prevalence in County Durham is higher than the regional and national average, with Durham’s figures at 19% whilst England’s average is 16.9%. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death.

Annie Pluse, specialist stop smoking advisor, describes the project “This year, Smokefreelife County Durham are trying a more innovative way of engaging the public by offering free patches to help support a quit attempt. We have also used our Social Media platforms; Facebook and Twitter more to promote our plans for No Smoking Day 2018. By meeting people in the community and promoting the benefits of quitting smoking and receiving ongoing face to face support with a specialist advisor, we know that those people are far more likely to quit and stay quit for good.”

Between 2016-17 Smokefreelife County Durham helped 2840 people stop smoking. If you would like to give up your smoking habit for good, why not use this No Smoking Day as your opportunity? For more information on the service visit

Hubert Parry – 100th Anniversary Concert at Durham Cathedral on Saturday 10 March

2018 is the 100th centenary of the death of Hubert Parry, arguably one of Britain’s most iconic and influential composers.  To mark the occasion Durham University and Durham Cathedral are presenting a celebratory concert of his music on Saturday 10 March, 7.30pm at Durham Cathedral.  Participants include Durham University Orchestral Society and Choral Society, Durham Cathedral Choir, Durham County Youth Choir and the Durham Cathedral Consort of Singers.

The composer Hubert Parry is a favourite of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales who on his recent visit to Durham was given a performance of a shortened version of this concert, which was well received and enjoyed by performers and audience alike.







Music to be performed includes some of Parry’s best known works – I Was GladJerusalem, and Blest Pair of Sirens. Alongside this well-known repertoire, the musicians will present Parry’s engaging cantata The Pied Piper of Hamelin, a setting of Robert Browning’s famous poem, first performed in Norwich in 1905 and rarely heard in England since. This and the Idyll from the composer’s Suite Moderne edited by the scholar and Parry biographer, Professor Jeremy Dibble, (Music Department, Durham University) will take pride of place in a concert not to be missed!  Durham Cathedral Choir will sing the Never WeatherBeaten Sail, Number 3 of Parry’s Six Songs of Farewell as well as singing in the massed choir items.  All of the choirs and the audience will sing Jerusalem at the end of the concert.

Professor Jeremy Dibble of Durham University is one of the country’s foremost musicologists. His specialism includes British nineteenth- and twentieth-century music, in particular the music of Parry. This celebratory concert provides a special insight into Parry’s music by Professor Dibble, “This is a unique chance to hear a range of Parry’s choral and orchestral music, some well-known, some hardly known, and in particular a unique chance to hear his delightful setting of Robert Browning’s poem The Pied Piper of Hamelin.  It is a wonderfully colourful score that captures the bitter-sweet nature of the popular legend and is of appeal to audiences of all ages.”

Daniel Cook, Master of the Choristers and Organist of Durham Cathedral says, “It is most fitting we are presenting this concert in partnership with Durham University.  The choral tradition at Durham Cathedral can be traced back to the Cathedral’s formation in the 11thCentury.  Our neighbour, Durham University has a reputation for providing world-class undergraduate and post-graduate music education.  Six of its most talented singers hold choral scholarships to sing in the Cathedral Choir during their time in Durham providing them with professional musician experience at a formative stage in their careers. In addition our organ scholar is also a Durham University student. The evening promises to be a spectacular night of music making culminating in the singing of one of the country’s most loved hymns.”








Tickets for the concert range from £10 to £20 and are available from the Visitor Desk at the West End of Durham Cathedral, by phone 0191 338 7178 or online at

Celebration of new appointments at Evensong at Durham Cathedral

A celebratory Evensong on Sunday 11 February at Durham Cathedral saw new appointments within the Diocese of Durham and at Durham Cathedral.

Simon Wood, a serving judge with lifelong links to music and volunteering in the Church of England, has been installed as a Lay Member of Chapter and an honorary Lay Canon of the Cathedral. Two existing members of Chapter; Ivor Stolliday and Cathy Barnes, have been made honorary Lay Canons.  The Chapter is the Cathedral’s governing body, chaired by the Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett.  Its members are a combination of clergy and lay people and represent a breadth of experience.

The Reverend Rick Simpson, formerly of St Brandon’s, Brancepeth, in the Diocese of Durham, has been installed as the Archdeacon of Auckland, a senior leadership position within the Diocese of Durham. This installation follows the retirement of the Venerable Nick Barker in July last year.

In his new role, Rick Simpson is responsible for the Archdeaconry in the southern part of the Diocese. This includes Stockton and Darlington on its southern boundary, Teesdale and Weardale in the North and West, and Bishop Auckland. He will also take the lead on interim ministry in the Diocese, initially assisting the new Priest in Charge at Holy Trinity & St Cuthbert Darlington.

Commenting on his appointment, Rick said: “I am hugely excited to have been appointed Archdeacon of Auckland. Within the Church of England as a whole and also in the Diocese of Durham this is a time of real challenge, but also great opportunity. I look forward very much to joining Bishop Paul and his Leadership Team, and working alongside the members and leaders of our churches, as we try together to ensure that all we do in worship, mission and ministry celebrates and shares the love and blessing of God.”

Simon Wood, who has been installed as a Lay Member of Chapter and honorary Lay Canon during Sunday’s Evensong service, was born in North Shields and spent his formative years as a Chorister at Durham Cathedral. He went on to the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle before studying law at Newcastle University. Entering the legal profession, Simon progressed to the Bar, where over the course of an almost 40 year career he has served as a barrister and judge across the north of England and beyond. Simon was appointed as a full time Circuit Judge in 2008, and devotes the majority of his professional time to the Family Court, ruling on cases involving children in the care system.

Simon has sung in choirs ever since leaving the Chorister School, including in Newcastle Cathedral Choir and, since 1982, as a member of what is now the Chorus of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, based at the Sage Gateshead.

“My time as a chorister at Durham Cathedral was the most important formative experience of my life, leaving an indelible mark on the pattern of my life.” Simon says, “It is therefore both a privilege and a pleasure to be able to make a further contribution to the Cathedral. In my case it will be built particularly on my legal and governance experience. I look forward to joining over 750 volunteers who are so moved by this remarkable place as to want to contribute to its success as a place of prayer and worship, as the spiritual hub of the Diocese of Durham, and as a unique World Heritage site with all its historic associations.”

Ivor Stolliday and Cathy Barnes are both Lay Members of the Chapter of Durham Cathedral, contributing to its governance.  Ivor Stolliday’s other governance roles include Chair of Visit County Durham; Cathy Barnes’ professional background is in education and she has previously been Chair of the National Glass Centre, Sunderland.

 The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham says, “We welcome Simon to the Chapter of Durham Cathedral and are sure his wealth of experience and affinity with Durham and North East England will be of huge benefit to the Cathedral and the wider community.  We congratulate the Reverend Rick Simpson on his appointment as Archdeacon of Auckland.  His local knowledge and understanding of the needs of the Diocese of Durham gained as Vicar of St Brandon’s, Brancepeth, stand him in good stead as he takes on the challenges of his new role.”

The Right Reverend Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham preached at the service and officiated over the installations.  Music was sung by Durham Cathedral Choir and included John Tavener’s Collegium Regale and O Clap your hands by Orlando Gibbons.

All images courtesy of ©Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral Reveals the Name of its New Stained Glass Window

This autumn, a new stained glass window will be installed in Durham Cathedral to honour and celebrate the unique and special link between the Cathedral and its neighbour on the Durham World Heritage Site, Durham University.

‘The Illumination Window’, designed by glass artist, Mel Howse, is being donated by the parents of Sara Pilkington, who died suddenly from a cardiac-related condition in February 2012 during her final year studying Combined Arts (BA Hons) at Durham University where she was a member of Collingwood College.

Sara, who would have celebrated her 27th birthday today, has been the inspiration for the window, which will express and interpret qualities she embodied; spirituality, beauty, colour, learning and light.

Sara’s parents Jonathan and Jools Pilkington, have worked closely with Mel Howse and staff at Durham Cathedral, including the Cathedral’s Conservation Architect Chris Cotton of the firm Purcell, to develop the window design. They said, “Our wish has always been to install within the Cathedral a lasting memorial to our beautiful daughter in a place she loved so much. As human beings, we each take our own journey of learning and we hope that by expressing this acquisition of knowledge and understanding through a beautiful work of art, the Illumination Window will be something in which everyone from children and students to adults can find meaning.”

Chichester-based glass artist Mel Howse has spent the last six months working on a 24 square metre full-size artwork for the new window. The cartoon was recently revealed to the Cathedral team and to Jonathan and Jools Pilkington.  It was a thrilling moment where the detailed design was seen at its full scale for the first time, marking the transition to commencing the glass work.

Mel is a designer and maker, bringing with her 25 years of experience in creating progressive and contemporary architectural glasswork. Notable previous commissions include J Sainsbury’s facade in Milton Keynes, the Huddleston Window at Lancing College, the south elevation of Otford Methodist Church in Kent, and public art for Conran designed Friese Greene House in Hove.  Mel said “A project like this is a rare opportunity; not only is it a privilege to be creating a window that will become part of the fabric of such an iconic and much-loved building, but also it is hugely inspiring to be asked to do so to honour Sara’s memory; a young and vibrant personality.”

The Illumination Window will be installed close to the Feretory in the Cathedral’s North Quire Aisle providing a physical link to Durham University, which was founded by the Cathedral in 1832 and upon whose buildings the window looks.  Nave Canon of the Cathedral and Chair of the Durham World Heritage Site Management Committee, Rosalind Brown, said,  “The engagement with academic study and the commitment to godly learning has always been part of our Christian heritage here in Durham.  As well as overlooking the University, The Illumination Window will also look towards Jarrow which links with one of our greatest ever scholars, The Venerable Bede, whose Shrine is housed in the Cathedral.  We are hugely grateful to Jonathan and Jools for their generous gift and ongoing commitment to this project and look forward to the installation later this year of what will be a very poignant work of art and one which will bring glory to God, who is the source of all illumination, and contribute to the beauty and meaning of our magnificent Cathedral.”


Durham Cathedral to admit boys and girls as day Choristers for the first time since 1906

Durham Cathedral Choir has a long and proud tradition of excellence in music as part of the liturgy and through concerts, recordings, broadcasts and tours. Being a chorister at Durham Cathedral offers a unique opportunity for children in school years 4 to 8 to fully immerse themselves in music making at a professional level within the context of a worshipping Christian community, whilst receiving a full-time all round education at The Chorister School.

At present, all the choristers are full boarders at The Chorister School, set within the beautiful surroundings of The College on the south side of the Cathedral, within the Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site. In September 2018, Durham Cathedral will now also admit girls and boys as day choristers for the first time since 1906 – enabling them to live at home whilst being a member of the Cathedral’s acclaimed Choir.

Ian Wicks, Headmaster of The Chorister School says, “There are many benefits to choristership beyond the purely musical. Choristers work closely as a team alongside professional adult colleagues and many former choristers have gone on to be leaders in their chosen fields, from international cricketers to broadcasters and leaders in business, taking with them many qualities including time management, teamwork and problem solving. Choirs also reinforce social tolerance and inclusion, and the health and cognitive benefits of singing and learning music are well known. This unique musical experience is gained alongside an education of the highest standard at The Chorister School, rated as excellent by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.”

Daniel Cook, Master of the Choristers and Organist of Durham Cathedral says, “Durham Cathedral’s Choristers come from the North East region and from all over the UK. We take pride in being able to offer a unique and unparalleled musical education to children from near and far. Before 1906, local families were able to be part of the Cathedral Choir without boarding, and building on our aspirations to offer choristerships to all, we are now delighted to be able to complement our current team of boarding choristers by opening up this opportunity of day choristerships to families who live close enough, enabling children to sing in the Cathedral Choir whilst continuing to live at home.”

Anyone interested in exploring this new and exciting initiative is encouraged to attend one of our forthcoming Chorister Experience events. Children in school years 2 to 5 will sing alongside the Cathedral Choristers and find out about their life at Durham Cathedral and The Chorister School. The first of these events will be held on Saturday 24February. For more details, please contact Rebecca Dodd by emailing The next Chorister Auditions take place on Saturday 3 March for girls and Saturday 17 March for boys.

Daniel Cook, Master of the Choristers and Organist of Durham Cathedral, is available throughout the year to meet with prospective choristers and their families, to hold informal auditions and to give advice on the possibilities of choristership.

Durham Cathedral Choir can be heard singing every day, except Monday, during school term-time and regularly gives concerts. The Choir’s next solo concert will feature a performance of Bach’s St John Passion on Sunday 25 March at 7pm in Durham Cathedral accompanied by the Avison Ensemble.  Ahead of this, the Cathedral Choristers are taking part in the North East Festival of Youth Choirs, on Saturday 10 February, part of the Durham Vocal Festival. On Saturday 10 March, the Cathedral Choir will join forces with students from Durham University for a concert celebrating the music of Hubert Parry. Details for all these concerts and services at Durham Cathedral can be found on

Dancing Durham officer takes to stage in ITV Christmas special

A DANCING Durham police officer who touched the hearts of millions will take to the stage this week in a one-off ITV show celebrating the emergency services.

PC Paul Taylor, of Durham Constabulary, was filmed dancing with a group of youngsters at the One Love Manchester gig in June, which went viral.

Now, he and ten of his colleagues will perform with Diversity in the Christmas special ‘A Night For The Emergency Services’ due to be aired at 9pm tomorrow (Wednesday, December 20).

PC Taylor, who is based in Darlington, said: “We did all the practice in our own time. Diversity came to Darlington to perform with us at the Dolphin Centre.

“It took a while but we got there. We just hope people enjoy the show.

“I don’t think any of us are quite ready to be their next team member yet.”

The show, presented by Ashley Banjo and Diversity, will feature talented members of the emergency services performing alongside special celebrity guests including Michael Ball and Alfie Boe, Leona Lewis and Tokio Myers.

Host Ashley Banjo said: “Our emergency services are incredible. They do so much for us and it’s fantastic to not only put on a show for them, but to perform alongside some of the talented people within the emergency services to show the nation’s thanks and appreciation for the work they do. It’s going to be a great night!”

A spokesperson for ITV said: “Following a year beset with national tragedy, the appreciation for the emergency services has never been higher.

“This show aims to both celebrate the incredible work they do, and thank them – the show’s audience will be made up solely of emergency service staff.

“As well as honouring their dedication and the life-risking work they do, the emergency services will also get to showcase some of their incredible talents performing on the show in orchestras, choirs, also singers, dancers and even a magician.”

Work safeguards popular path following storm damage

Work has been carried out to safeguard a popular footpath in Durham City following storm damage.

The banks of the River Wear beneath the footpath at Maiden Castle behind Durham City Rugby Club suffered extensively when Storm Desmond hit the region in December 2015, leaving the path at risk of falling into the river should there be a repeat of the storm.

Now, Durham County Council has carried out work to strengthen the riverbank, protecting the path against further storm damage.

The path which links Durham, Durham University’s sports centre at Maiden Castle and Shincliffe is popular with both walkers and cyclists, as well as the city’s running groups.

The work was timed to allow completion of a major rebuilding scheme at the site of a landslide across the river at Pelaw Wood, in order to ensure one side of the riverbank was always open for pedestrians and cyclists.

It involved the building of foundations at river level, beneath a stepped wall of stone filled wire cages. These have been finished with mats and willow planting.

The work was carried out over a nine week period and funded from capital money set aside for Storm Desmond footpath repairs across the county.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We know how popular this path is with those who enjoy walking, running or cycling along this picturesque stretch of the River Wear. The damage caused to the riverbank in December 2015 left us in a position where any further storm damage could have led to the path crumbling into the river.

“The work we have done will hopefully protect the path against bad weather for years to come.”


Council ‘logs’ support for hospice’s fundraising reindeers

Rudolph and co will be brightening up homes and gardens this Christmas – thanks to Durham County Council.

Butterwick Hospice at Bishop Auckland was struggling to find the logs it needs to make the miniature wooden Reindeer it sells each festive season to raise much needed funds.

Aware of recent tree work carried out by the council in the area, the hospice wrote to the authority’s chief executive Terry Collins asking if it could donate some logs.

Taking up the story, Terry said: “We always try to help when charitable organisations come to us for help and we are aware of the really important work the hospice does in supporting those with life limiting illnesses and their families.

“So when we got the letter asking if we could donate some logs, we were only too happy to help.”

The reindeer are made by retired Bishop Auckland resident Ian Clark, who has volunteered at the hospice for the last ten years. He started making them three years ago.

In a letter to Terry, his wife Dorothy, who also volunteers at the site, wrote: “I write to call upon your generosity on behalf of Butterwick Hospice, Bishop Auckland.

“My husband and I make reindeer to sell to our supporters in the Christmas period to help raise money for our hospice.

“As we are finding it difficult finding the logs which we need, I wondered if we may ask to have some from the recent ‘tree felling’ please.

“We would really appreciate this… yours respectfully and hopefully.”

Ian said: “There are so many people in need of the kind of support provided by the hospice these days and that is why it is so important that funds are raised to allow it to continue its good work.

“I’m really grateful to the council for donating the logs and in turn helping the hospice.”

Helen Kirby, fundraiser at the hospice, said: “Ian and Dorothy are very dedicated volunteers who help us on a regular basis with projects and events.

“Everyone seems to love the reindeers and we’d like to thank both the Clarks and the council for what they’ve done for us.”

Terry added: “It’s great that Ian is willing to give up his time for what is a truly excellent cause and we hope the reindeer will add an extra touch of festive cheer to people’s Christmases.”

The reindeers have proved so popular that they have sold out. However orders can be placed for Christmas 2018 by contacting the hospice’s fundraising team on 01388 603003.

New Chapter Clerk and Chief Operating Officer appointed for Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral has appointed a new Chapter Clerk and Chief Operating Officer.  Amanda Anderson, currently Director of Strategic Development and Operations at Bradford Cathedral will arrive in Durham early 2018.  Her recruitment follows the announcement that the incumbent, Philip Davies, is retiring from the position in March next year.

Philip arrived at Durham Cathedral in 2009 and has been instrumental to recent developments such as Open Treasure, the Cathedral’s new exhibition experience designed to showcase the Cathedral’s internationally significant collections.

Whilst at Bradford Cathedral Amanda has simultaneously managed several capital projects including a successful Heritage Lottery Fund application and steered the Cathedral beyond compliance to best practice in areas such as Health and Safety and Human Resources.  She previously had a distinguished career in the Armed Forces that saw her serve with the Royal Irish Regiment and the Royal Army Medical Corps. Achievements in the Armed Forces include managing significant organisational change during the restructuring of the Army Medical Services to provide better support to serving personnel and their families in the UK and globally and project management of the introduction of a bespoke IT program used to track personnel both in the UK and in conflict torn states.

Amanda Anderson says, “To be a key player at one of Britain’s favourite cathedrals is a rare and fantastic opportunity that I could not resist applying for. I feel very privileged and humbled to have been selected to lead the talented management team in the truly magnificent and unique setting that is Durham Cathedral. I am looking forward to utilising my skills to work collaboratively with the Dean, Chapter and staff in order to fulfil Durham Cathedral’s vision to share our faith and heritage globally, and to empower people to transform the communities in which we live and serve.”

On Amanda’s appointment, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham says, “We look forward to welcoming Amanda to the Cathedral as our new Chapter Clerk and Chief Operating Officer. There was an extremely strong field of candidates with many applicants excited by the prospect of working at ‘the best Cathedral on planet earth’, as it is famously described by writer Bill Bryson.  Amanda presented herself as the outstanding candidate with a wealth of experience, in particular her knowledge of the working of cathedrals gained in her current post at Bradford Cathedral, as well as a career in the British Army stretching over 21 years.  Her undoubted skills in operations and senior HR management will have a positive impact on the life of the Cathedral and its future direction, and she will be a worthy successor to Philip Davies who retires on 31 March 2018.”

Amanda loves all outdoor activities especially hill walking, running and cycling. She has competed in triathlons, marathons and other running events. She has been fortunate enough to trek in beautiful locations such as Corsica, Morocco, Kenya and Turkey. Her most recent adventure was an expedition to walk part of the Camino De Santiago. Amanda is looking forward to moving to North East England and exploring the exceptional countryside the region has to offer.