An introduction from Alexander Armstrong
As a region which spawned the likes of the steam train, the windscreen wiper and the lightbulb, the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of North East England and its people is unrivalled. Indeed, many inventions to come from the North East have been central in shaping the world we live in today.
Famed for being the founders of shipbuilding and inventors of the lifeboat, the region has in fact been making waves for as far back as the history books can document. As the home of Hadrian’s Wall and Lindisfarne – an early centre of Christianity – its history stretches back thousands of years, and such landmarks are lasting monuments to the region’s international significance even so many years ago.
And while this proud history is a reason in itself for many people to visit, the reality of coming to the North East of England is that it is a destination like no other. From its spectacular rolling countryside and outstanding collection of castles, to its stunning coastline and the vibrant city life of NewcastleGateshead – all accessible through the region’s roads or rail – the North East offers an unparalleled opportunity to see and do it all.
In short, North East England is a truly special place – a place I am immensely proud to say I’m from.
Far from its achievements being part of history, the North East continues to make its mark internationally. As the home of the Great North Run, and its role as a host city for the Olympics in 2012 and Rugby World Cup in 2015, NewcastleGateshead is a well-established major events destination – its selection as home to the Great Exhibition of the North 2018 only serves to confirm its reputation in this area.
In the world of business and education too, the region continues to thrive. With world-leading research being done at our universities, and students and academics choosing North East England as a place to study and live, our academic excellence is second to none. That, in turn, helps to support the vibrant business community and spirit of entrepreneurialism which dates back to the likes of George and Robert Stephenson (steam locomotion) and Joseph Swan (lightbulb). We continue to advance technology which has the power to change whole industries – one of the most recent examples being Building Information Modelling (BIM), which is revolutionising the accepted means of construction – as well as Newcastle being home to major national and international companies, such as Sage, the business software giant which was founded here.
As a region with so many attributes, one thing I am particularly fond of is that you never stop discovering here. Even as someone who was born and raised in Northumberland, and was a frequent visitor to Newcastle throughout my youth, I had not visited the Literary and Philosophical Society (known as the Lit & Phil) – the largest independent library outside of London which was a crucible of ideas and forum for the sharing of ideas for giants of the region’s heritage. Only when I was invited to become President of the Lit & Phil did I become aware that I had strong family connections to the society, dating back almost to its formation in 1793. The Lit & Phil is one of the North East’s many gems, and one that I am personally delighted to have found.
It is often said that there is no place like home, and I do believe there really is no place like North East England, my home region. With its combination of history, scenery, dynamism, passion and the countless opportunities on offer whether you are here for business or leisure, the North East of England is a destination to be savoured. I do hope you and your delegates visit.
The content and photography in this editorial section were produced by North East Times.