South Shields’ newest building has put the North East on the map after beating tough competition to gain a national accolade for the benefits it provides to the community.
The Word, in South Shields Market Place, won the national Community Benefit award in this year’s RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Awards.
Competing against more than 95 regional winners, the new library and arts centre was praised for providing what judges described as “a truly inspiring and interactive community-led centre with a 21st century library and exemplary facilities”.
The judges said they were impressed with the centre’s positive impact on residents – with many community groups now operating from The Word – and for boosting the local economy through attracting visitors from further afield with a varied calendar of exhibitions, workshops and events with national appeal.
The Word was one of eight category winners from the North East regional awards in April, which qualified for the 2017 Grand Final.
The Word scooped three category awards – Community Benefit, Design through Innovation and Tourism & Leisure – before being crowned the overall North East Project of the Year.
I am delighted that it has now gained national recognition for the hugely positive impact it is having on its local communityAdam Serfontein, chairman of the RICS North East judging panel
Chairman of the North East judging panel Adam Serfontein said: “The North East is home to some of the most pioneering, yet highly-sustainable buildings that are much loved valuable assets to their communities.
“The Word is certainly testament to this, which is why it quite rightly won so many awards in the regional RICS Awards earlier this year.
“I am delighted that it has now gained national recognition for the hugely-positive impact it is having on its local community.
The highly-acclaimed UK Project of the Year accolade went to the Remembrance Centre at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, for enabling visitors to embark on an emotional journey of discovery thanks to its enhanced visitor facilities, unique interactive activities, galleries and exhibitions.
Coun John Anglin, lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “We’ve just marked The Word’s first birthday and what a remarkable first year it had.
“There has been so much to celebrate, not least the staggering number of awards it has clinched.
“You only need look at the visitor numbers to know how well received the venue has been, but the recognition that it has received from prestigious industry professionals is further endorsement of what a superb asset to the Borough it is.”