The organisers of Northumberland Day have announced the winners of the Letter to Northumbear competition, arranged to celebrate this year’s county day, and six proud schools are now celebrating their pupils’ success.


Over 450 entries were received, overwhelming the judges with brilliant letters from primary school children, aged from 4 to 11.  All penned a letter to the county day mascot, Northumbear, choosing one of three set topics to write about: their favourite place; how the past year has been for them and how it made them feel and how they would celebrate the county day.


Some entries were extremely touching and poignant, others imaginative and full of metaphors and similes and some had elements of humour and fun.  Many children wanted Northumbear to come and visit them, to play or see their school, whilst others had recommendations as to how he could have the best possible time with his friends, NElephant and Heartley and little brother, Oswaldain.


The letter entries were often written in school and some schools requested their own Letter to Northumbear postboxes, so that their children could post their letters off.


Headteachers noted how excited the children were to do this and, in some cases, learned a lot about how the pandemic year had affected their pupils.


Although there were supposed to be three prizes for the competition, the organisers were so wowed by the children’s letters and volume of entries that they have increased the Gold prizes to five.  Winners of a trophy, letter writing set and audio recorder, for newsgathering projects, are Nathan Dewson (Red Row First, Morpeth, aged 5), Harper (Belsay School, aged 6), Sadie Hart and Jack McGowan of Broomhaugh C of E First, aged 7 and 8) and Kitty Oates, aged 11, of Whittingham C of E Primary.


Whittingham C of E Primary also had four Silver winners, who will receive a silver trophy.  These were Ella Wynne (9), Bertie Hardie (9), Willow Hibbert-Johnson (10) and Jess Snaith (11).  Four other Silver winners are pupils at Corbridge C of E First: George Greenley (5), Tom Warland (8), Alex O’Hara (9) and James Coll (9).  Joining them as a Silver winner is Thomas Stonehouse, aged 8, of Allendale Primary.


Bronze winners will receive a Bronze trophy  and come from four schools.  Whittingham C of E Primary winners are Arthur Hibbert-Johnson (8), Brandon Tweedy (10) and Rhys Hodgson (10).  Ava Robinson (5) is a winner from Red Row First and William Martin (4) and Florrie Bea (7), pupils at Belsay School, join her, along with Hollie Clegg, from Allendale Primary.


Certificates of Merit have also been awarded, with these going to Darcy Penny and Arianwen Bodger, both aged 6 and pupils at Corbridge C of E First, Matilda Wilson (8) of Whittingham C of E Primary, Thomas Armstrong and Ethan Allcock (8) of Allendale Primary and Hamish Lukins (9) of Broomhaugh C of E First.


Trophies are currently being engraved for the children and will be with them shortly.


Northumberland Day organiser, Jane Hunt, says: “The standard of work produced by children of all ages was incredible and their love of Northumberland and their schools shone through.  In fact, we spotted some budding tour guides amongst the entrants!


“We also saw how hard lockdown had been for some children and were touched to hear that our competition has helped teachers to understand this too.


“A real love of Northumbear and his little gang of friends was also apparent, so when times become more normal, we hope that he can visit some schools and see children in person.  In the meantime, we shall be starting a Northumbear Children’s Club, which will be free to join and which will keep children up-to-date with all of his news. In the meantime, we thank all of the children who entered and all of the dedicated teachers who inspired their brilliant writing.”


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