Supporters of Blyth Tall Ship Project announce donations

Edwin Blackburn's painting Blyth in Sight

The organisers of some of the North East’s most popular food festivals have announced plans to donate money to the Blyth Tall Ship project.

Mark and Shelley Deakin of The Proper Food and Drink Festivals – along with Tony Eastlake of Guerilla PA – are providing food stalls, bars and entertainment on Blyth Quayside during this month’s North Sea Tall Ships Regatta.

“We’ve been to see the fantastic work of the Blyth Tall Ship project and decided to see what we could do to help support it,” said Mr Deakin. Funds raised at the Quayside will go to the charity.

Well-known local producers – including Fat Hippo, Zapatista, Papa Ganoush, Monsieur Crepe and Wylam Brewery – will keep visitors fed and watered. Entertainment will be provided by a number of popular bands, including Fickle Lilly, The Toasters, Dennis, The Adlets, and Pretty Weeds.


The Deakins are also running the Northumberland Village during the four days of the event. Set up in Ridley Park, it will feature 40 stalls offering the very best food, drink and specialist crafts from the area. Many of the featured producers have also appeared this summer at Proper Food and Drink Festivals in South Shields, Whitley Bay, Cramlington and North Shields, as well as the North East Chilli Fest at Seaton Delaval Hall.

Two hundred years ago food and drink – or probably the lack of it – did not prevent Blyth sailor Captain William Smith and his crew, on their vessel the Williams, brave some of the world’s heaviest seas to discover the continent of Antarctica.

Even though he died a pauper and was not recognised for his achievements, Captain Smith, his men and the Williams are the inspiration behind the Blyth Tall Ship project.

Teenagers and young adults are refitting and restoring a vessel similar to the original ship, and in 2019, a crew from Blyth will set sail in the Williams II to recreate Captain Smith’s epic voyage.

Like the Deakins, Edwin Blackburn – the official artist for the Blyth Tall Ship project – is also raising money for the charity.

He has painted the Williams II approaching Blyth Piers and will donate money from the sale of the painting and limited edition prints. His work is currently on show in the Blagdon Gallery at the Milkhope Centre in Blagdon.

Edwin – who lives in Blyth, specialises in maritime art and sells his work in the UK and countries across the world – said: “This was an opportunity to support a charity in my home town which is close to my heart. In my own small way it is a chance to help a fantastic project.”

Working on the Williams II has already helped many young people gain experience which has secured them apprenticeships and full time jobs with local employers who operate in the local engineering and offshore sectors.

Clive Gray, chief executive of Blyth Tall Ship, said: “The impending arrival of the tall ships has created an even greater interest in the work we are doing and I am very grateful for these very kind donations.”

He added: “I am so proud to be involved in a project which is already helping to change lives and will continue to offer opportunities to young people in the town We are reviving old skills to help young people acquire new skills.

“It’s also about time the achievements of Captain Smith and his brave crew are recognised.”

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