New Year’s Day Hunt

Horses, riders and hounds from the Cleveland Hunt prepare to ride out on the traditional New Year’s Day hunt this morning. Prior to 1827 this pack was known as the ‘Roxby and Cleveland’ and their hunt country covers an area of around 25 miles by 15 miles and varies from vale to high moorland. Established in 1722 it is one of the oldest in the country.

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Sankta Lucia

The traditional Swedish festival of Sankta Lucia took place tonight at York Minster. The festival is a traditional festival of light that celebrates the bringer of light during the long darkness of winter. The service features a candlelit procession and carols in celebration of St Lucy, a young Sicilian girl who was said to have been martyred for her Christian faith in the early fourth century. The service, which is run in partnership with York Anglo-Scandanavian Society, starts with a procession led this year by, Sara Kjorling, 24, from Stockholm, wearing a crown of candles, thought to symbolise a halo and a red sash that symbolises martyrdom.

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The 30th Masham Sheep Fair

So the 30th Masham Sheep Fair took place over the weekend and once again it brought a wide range of sheep…obviously and Morris dancers and ice cream and sheepdogs herding ducks – as you do – and skipping and teddy boys and hats and wool-weaving and large potatoes and geese and sheep-racing jumping over hurdles as well as lots of fine Yorkshire folk who came along to support one of the more quirky country shows around…so here’s a few from the Sunday…

 

#Countrypeople

 

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*Boring technical stuff..all pictures were shot with a Leica M9 and a 50mm f2 Summicron lens and were edited to black and white using Lightroom 5.

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Images copyright Ian Forsyth 2015

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Castle Howard Proms

Hundreds of people attended the 25th anniversary of the Castle Howard Proms event near York on Saturday evening. The theme of the event this year was a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the 70th anniversary of VE day. The evening brought an evening of classic musical favourites performed by the UK philharmonic orchestra and other performers and celebrated ‘Britishness’ on the lawns of Castle Howard.

Despite a brief but heavy thunderstorm during the evening visitors to one of Yorkshire’s finest stately homes and gardens remained in good spirits enjoying picnics and drinks throughout the evening….

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Rosedale Country Show

A mainstay of the country show calendar Rosedale Show in North Yorkshire attracts hundreds of visitors and entrants from across the North Yorkshire region and remains as popular as ever. Here’s a few from the show today…

 

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#Countrypeople

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The real Northern Powerhouse

More than two decades after the last pit closed in the Durham Coalfield the Durham Miners Gala or the ‘Big Meeting’ as the event is also known remains as popular as ever. The Gala forms part of the culture and heritage of the area and represents the communal values of the North East of England. The 131st gala held today saw the traditional colliery bands marching through the city ahead of their banners before passing the County Hotel and heading down to the Racecourse. In the early years of the meet those attending left their villages early in the morning and then made their way on foot to Durham from all directions but these days people either drive or arrive on buses.

Beginning in 1871 the Gala is now the biggest trade union event in Europe and many thousands of people still meet up in the market place of the city to follow their banner and pass the County Hotel on Old Elvet as they walk past union leaders, invited guests and local dignitaries who greet the march from the hotel balcony.

Once all the bands have passed through speeches are held on the racecourse. Amongst those speaking this year or joining to march with the procession (and shown in some of the pictures below) were Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall. Tosh McDonald, the president of ASLEF – The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen – and Owen Jones, a columnist with the Guardian newspaper and political activist and many more.

The contemporary artist Grayson Perry also attended. Visiting the gala as part of a documentary he is making and the actor Alun Armstrong, the son of a miner and originally from Anfield Plain in County Durham stood on the County Hotel balcony.

More importantly though than all of these guests and trade union speakers and their rhetoric are the men, women and children who attend the miners gala each year without fail and who make the event the occasion that it is. These people and the pride in the mining heritage of the region is where the real northern powerhouse is to be found: The group of ladies who arrive very, very early each year to secure the same place on the steps near the market place who start the day with strawberries and pink champagne.

To Nora Newby, a wonderful 81 year old from Chilton who has attended 60 out of the last 61 gala’s who arrives at around 6am on the morning of gala day to stand in the same spot each year. The missed year was so that she could attend her granddaughters wedding! An unfortunate tongue-in-cheek fact that she reminds (scolds) her granddaughter of often.

Former miner Billy Raine, 89, from Easington is a regular who entertains the crowds outside the County Hotel wearing his orange coveralls and miners hat as he dances and salutes as the bands perform and of course the thousands more who attend but especially the colliery bands and the former miners and miners wives who make this occasion what it is and who help create an event that continues to bring well over 100,000 people back year after year. Long may it continue.

CLICK to listen and recorded today: Gresford – The Miners Hymn

To keep the Durham Big Meet going any contributions and support are welcome through the Friends of Durham Miners Gala website.

 

Some of the pictures that I shot from the day are below. Enjoy Marra.

 

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Former miner Billy Raine, 89, from Easington0019

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Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn0052 0053 0054

Tosh McDonald, the president of ASLEF – The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen 0056 0057 0058 0059

Owen Jones0060 0061 0062

 

 

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Images copyright Ian Forsyth /  Getty Images

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All rights reserved