STEPHEN HEPBURN: History of our area is the Envy of Britain

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I was delighted my recent talks with South Tyneside Councillors resulted in a positive outcome regarding the future of Bede’s World.

 Ever since the sudden closure of Bede’s World was announced last month, I have been in touch with the Council in an attempt to see this precious site reopened at the earliest opportunity.

 And I am pleased that a move to re-open Bede’s World has taken a huge step forward with the news that a lease on the Jarrow site has been agreed in principle between South Tyneside Council and environmental charity Groundwork.

 They, like all of us, have appreciated the value of such a special national asset that Bede’s World is.

 Bede’s World has been a hugely important and internationally recognised historical and spiritual resource to the Borough and the rest of the country. Tens of thousands of visitors every year walked around the Anglo-Saxon replica village and museum.

 The dedication, enthusiasm and warmth of the staff and volunteers were second to none.

 Local school kids learned a lot and when they grew up, returned with their own children. It’s a tradition worth preserving.

 Our local Council’s championing of Bede’s World in its time of need is worthy of much praise.

 Because the history of our area is the envy of much of Britain, with most other places never coming close to a heritage as proud as ours.

 On our own doorstep the Venerable Bede, one of the most significant figures in our nation’s journey, a scholar respected around Europe, changed history.

 I bet a wealthy American would pay a fortune if we allowed them to get their hands on 7th Century St Paul’s Church, dismantling it brick by brick to rebuild it over there.

 So I wasn’t surprised one bit when the famous two Braggs, singer Billy and culture vulture Melvyn, supported the campaign to revive Bede’s World.

 As the broadcaster Bragg, Melvyn, decreed at the time: “The Venerable Bede is one of the greatest figures in British history. In fact, his own books and the contemporary Lindisfarne Gospels were the foundations of British culture and both are world famous and rightly so. He comes at a time when the North East, Northumbria, made the first foundations of what would become a united England.”

 I want us to draw inspiration from the past to enjoy the future – and that includes the re-opening of Bede’s World.

 Thanks to everybody involved. What’s that old saying? Ah yes: where there’s a will there’s a way!