More honours for the Lady of the North

October 9, 2013 | Brenkley News

The Royal introduction given to the North East’s newest tourism and cultural landmark has been doubly honoured at a prestigious regional awards ceremony.

The launch of Northumberlandia, the world’s largest human landform, by regional property and energy firm the Banks Group and Footprint Public Relations picked up two awards at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ annual North East PRide Awards, which were held at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead.

The work done by Banks and Footprint to publicise the project during its construction phase and in the build up to its official opening in September last year, which resulted in a wide range of positive regional, national and international publicity for both the project and the wider North East, was chosen as the gold award winner in the PRide Awards’ best use of media relations category.

And the launch event organised by Banks and The Blagdon Estate for Northumberlandia, which was based around an official opening ceremony carried out by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, won a silver award in the initiative’s Best Event category.

The CIPR PRide Awards, which celebrate their tenth anniversary this year, are designed to recognise excellence in PR and communications in the different regions of the UK, and attract entries from the North East’s leading communications agencies, public sector organisations and private sector firms.

BBC1’s flagship Breakfast programme broadcast live from Northumberlandia on the morning of her official opening, while earlier in the year, TV presenter Helen Skelton undertook some landscaping work on the landform as part of a feature broadcast on the BBC’s Countryfile show.

Blagdon and Banks wholly funded Northumberlandia’s creation, investing around £3m in the project and taking two and a half years to construct the landform using 1.5 million tonnes of carefully selected stone, clay and soil from Banks’ adjacent Shotton Surface Mine.

Northumberlandia, which is now managed by independent charity The Land Trust in association with the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Azure Charitable Enterprises, has proved extremely popular with both local residents and visitors to the region, with more than 100,000 people visiting the site over the last year.

Work on the construction of a new visitor centre began recently after The Land Trust secured funding totalling £242,000 from the Banks Community Fund and Defra’s Regional Economy Grant, and it is expected to open by the end of November.

Katie Perkin, communications manager at The Banks Group, says: “Alongside showcasing Northumberlandia herself, all the media attention that the project received last year provided a fantastic platform for highlighting just how much North East England has to offer as a whole, especially on the day of the official opening itself, when our royal and media guests got their first look at Northumberlandia under a cloudless blue sky.

“As well as getting a fantastic response from print, broadcast and online media right across the UK, we picked up positive media coverage from as far afield as Australia, India and the US, and also made a big impact on social media around the launch.

“This coverage has generated a great deal of interest in visiting the Cramlington area from people both across the region and further afield, with, for example, tourists on a German cruise ship that docked recently at the Port Of Tyne having a visit to Northumberlandia at the top of their agenda.

“Northumberlandia’s story is one of a traditional North East industry funding the creation of a cultural and community asset that will last for decades, and we’re very pleased that the story has received this recognition from the communications industry’s leading professional body.”

Northumberlandia’s success at the PRide Awards is the latest in a lengthening list of honours that have been received by The Lady of the North

She was chosen as the winner of the Tourism & Leisure category of the 2013 Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) North East Renaissance Awards, which honour “projects that make an outstanding contribution to and demonstrable impact on tourism and leisure facilities in the region,” and she was also shortlisted for the Excellence in Planning & Design for the Public Realm category of the national Royal Town Planning Institute Awards for Planning Excellence.

Katie Perkin continues: “The different honours that have come Northumberlandia’s way this year demonstrate the diverse appeal of the landform to different audiences and the quality with which she was transformed from a concept on a drawing board through to a unique North East landmark.”

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