Songs of Praise hits the Northumberland coast later this month


Northumberland has already hosted a quintessential Sunday program this month and on May 22 another is being broadcast from the county.

After the Woodhorn Museum hosted Antiques Roadshow on May 8, Songs of Praise returns two weeks later. The BBC filmed the next episode at Northumberland Wildlife Trust reserves at Druridge Pools and East Chevington, just south of Amble.

As well as time spent on the reserves, the program features Even Sparrows, a Christian organization that organizes birding retreats throughout Northumberland. Their retreats most often take place on Holy Island, a place special because of its connection with St Aidan who founded the monastery there and one of his monks, St Cuthbert, who was responsible for bringing Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons. .

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The Even Sparrows retreats, led by Mark Winter, a former trustee of the wildlife charity, are best described as slow-paced birdwatching with prayer and an opportunity for quiet reflection while listening Birdsong. As part of the programme, Mike Pratt, chief executive of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, was filmed talking about how the charity is constantly working to remind people of how nature inspires and connects everyone to the overview of all life.

He was also keen to point out that nature provides mental, emotional and physical support – especially in the past two years during the pandemic, when many have sought solace in the natural world. Throughout filming, Mark and Mike rejoiced and how life affirming it is to live among such wildlife.

Mike Pratt, CEO of Northumberland Wildlife Trust

What’s your favorite spot for quiet reflection in Northumberland? Let us know in the comments below!

At Druridge Pools there was talk of the migrating swallows, waders and wild birds the reserve is known for, while at East Chevington the birdwatching group was filmed outside the hideout of birdwatching before a silent prayer and meditation with birds such as cetti and reed warblers singing loudly.

Spoonbill at Druridge Pools
An Eurasian Spoonbill at Druridge Pools

Mark Winter, who has run Even Sparrow retreats for nearly 20 years now, runs three or four events in Northumberland each year, but his work has also taken him to the Midlands and Spain. He said: “Obviously birds are found all over the world, so wherever they are it is appropriate (to hold a retreat).”

“I have a special connection to Holy Island and most of my retreats have been held there, but increasingly in the East Chevington and Druridge Bay area which was so good for Songs of Praise. There will be images of East Chevington and Druridge Pools and they are great havens for wildlife and they remind us of the beauty of nature and even reclaimed land as East Chevington is an open pit coal site recovered.

Mark Even Sparrows winter in Northumberland
Mark Even Sparrows winter in Northumberland

“I enjoyed the experience. I was with a team of people who were on retreat and we spent a day watching birds, worshiping God and spending time in prayer and silence.

“When I say silence, we had birdsong all around us, but that was part of the appeal. The feeling that we can see wildlife and God’s creations when we’re out in the field.”

Speaking of his Songs of Praise experience, Mike Pratt of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust added: “Saints Cuthbert and Aiden worshiped outdoors, so our reserves in Northumberland couldn’t be more appropriate places to connect people’s hearts and souls. in the spirit of nature and of all existence. .Whatever an individual’s beliefs, one can only marvel at all that people are an integral part of.

For more information on either group, visit the Even Sparrows website here and the Northumberland Wildlife Trust here.

Songs of Praise airs at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, May 22. It will be available soon after on iPlayer.

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