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Artist and shepherd take pride in awards

Website winner presented with local artist’s hand-crafted glass vase
by Ruth Holliday

A Longwitton shepherd and a Morpeth glass artist were both held up as examples of excellence at the Tourist Board’s Pride of Northumbria Awards.

The awards, which celebrate the best of the region’s tourism businesses, were presented at the Copthorne Hotel in Newcastle, where each winner was given a unique hand-crafted glass vase – created by Morpeth woman Dru Doughty at her Newgate Street home.

Winner of the Website of the Year 2002 was Jon Monks, 33, of Greenleighton Cottage, Longwitton, whose Shepherds Walks business has attracted a global following.

Mr Monks, who was chosen as a ‘’village character’ for the Tourist Board’s Village Vistas campaign, has had remarkable success since setting up in February 2001.

Through the site, he sells tailor-made guided walks through the Northumbrian countryside, giving a shepherd’s eye view of the landscape.

“The website has been going from strength to strength,” he said. “We‘ve started selling the walks through the local country shows now as well, and that’s brought in a lot of business.”

“This year we’ve had a big increase in the number of sales to Australia and
New Zealand, and this September was our second best month ever, which is excellent, because you would expect business to be trailing off at this time of year.”

“We’re selling alot of walks to people outside the region, and that‘s great news because it means we won’t have to worry about saturating the local market, and it also helps bring visitors into Northumberland.”

“Next year will be an exciting time, because we plan to replicate the Northumberland business over in Cumbria.”

“That will involve a separate website and new leaflets, and I’m doing a lot of walking in the Lakes at the moment as research. We’re ready to take on the world!”

Mr Monks will now go forward to the Excellence in England Awards final, held in London next April.

He added: “The award itself is beautiful, and everyone who’s seen it has commented on it.”

Dru Doughty, who designed and made the awards, spent hours covering each vase with handmade paper and leaf membranes to create an unusual, frosted effect.

She said: “I produce hand-made glass and paper products from my home in
Newgate Street, and we also make photo albums, which are very popular.”
“The Tourist Board contacted me after seeing my work in the Glass and Art Gallery in Consett, and I was very pleased to be involved.”

The Tourist Board’s PR Manager, Val Lowther, said: “The Pride of Northumbria Awards celebrate the very best of the region’s tourism business, so I wanted something extra special and very different for the winners – an award which itself portrays the quality and excellence of the competition entries.”

“These vases certainly fit the bill – they are not just trophies to sit on a shelf, but are beautiful pieces of glassware, which anyone would be proud of.”