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Gathering to pay tribute to brave Emily.

Byline: Brian Daniel? 07733 002 822 ?

AMARKET town's yearly celebration of its traditions and culture got off to a flying start yesterday.

The 46th annual Northumbrian Gathering in Morpeth began with the town's most famous daughter very much at its heart.

Suffragette Emily Davison, who has strong links with Morpeth, died 100 years ago after running into the path of the King's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.

Davison is buried in Morpeth's St Mary's Churchyard, and special events and activities to commemorate the anniversary of her death got under way yesterday and will run throughout the weekend-long gathering.

Last night, a gala concert - The North Country Lass - at the town's Methodist Church featured female musicians and singers, as well as BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Emily Portman and accordionist Gemma Telfer, who is a descendant of Davison's family.

Musical duo Hautbois played popular songs from 1913 and female rapper dance team Star and Shadow performed the traditional pitman's sword dance. Ray and Lottie Alexander took the roles of MP George Lansbury and Emily Davison.

The gathering was officially opened at 2pm by the mayor of Morpeth, launching three days of concerts, workshops, competitions, street entertainment and exhibitions. The first of three daily crafts displays took place in the Town Hall, with live musical performances and stalls in the market place.

Competitions include arts and crafts, singing, reciting, clog dancing, dialect and writing.

Gathering committee chairman Kim Bibby-Wilson said last night: "We are really delighted with the way the weekend has begun, particularly after the dreadful weather leading up to it. With the organisation and planning it is always so worthwhile when you get people coming and enjoying it.

"It really has been good. Let us hope that the weekend continues that way."

Sid Calderbank arrived for the gathering last night, having travelled from his Lancashire home as he has done for many years.

He said: "I like it up here, I like to associate with kindred spirits and people who love their own area and love their own traditions. I come up here and meet with lots of old friends."

Onlookers are invited to wear the traditional suffragette colours of purple, green and white for this morning's costumed pageant in the town centre. Roads will be closed from 10.45-11.45am so that the streets can be lined for the re-enactment of Lord Greystoke's return from the 1388 Battle of Otterburn, including the Gathering's street entertainers and flag-bearers.

Lunchtime sees a re-enactment of a suffragette rally and debate at the Methodist Church at 12.30pm.

Carlisle Park hosts re-enactments of Anglo-Saxon battles today and tomorrow.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 6, 2013
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