Bishop Auckland and Shildon Business Network Event


Last month I attended the Business Durham networking event for Bishop Auckland and Shildon businesses, in order to gain an insight into what this event was all about.

From my previous experience of being self-employed I was already very aware of what these type of events involved, but I was keen to go along for myself to see what benefits this event had for the local business communities.

The venue of this event was held at The Park Head Hotel at a starting time of 8.15am, usually attending breakfast networking meetings of this type you can often expect to receive a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea or coffee.

But not at The Park Head Hotel, a fantastic cooked breakfast, with a wide selection of fruit and pastries made attending all the more worthwhile.

The structure of this event can be seen below;


Giving all attendees a good 40 minutes to get a warm drink, some breakfast, and do some networking in the room that consisted of over 30 businesses.

For me it was nice to see some familiar faces with Auckland Castle, Durham County Council and Caps Off in attendance.

A short welcome and introductions were made by both Business Durham and South Durham Enterprise Agency, before handing over to the main speaker from Auckland Castle Trust to carry out their presentation based on this occasion, regarding the development plans from Auckland Castle Trust and also taking time to highlight the ‘Kynren’ project delivered by Eleven Arches.

Once the informative presentation was complete, there was around 20 to 30 minutes at the end to do some further networking within the room, chatting to new people and making business connections.

Business Durham’s objectives for these events are each meeting is to include breakfast, networking, business support and discussions, guest speakers and more.

What I like about this event is it’s very relaxed, friendly, you have the opportunity to meet local business people all in one room, and they alternate the event venues.

This event was their second event, the first one being held at Bishop Auckland Football Club in June, enabling many businesses in both towns the opportunity to experience first-hand the many different venues and businesses for themselves.

Tomorrow sees the next Bishop Auckland and Shildon Business Network event held at The Manor House Hotel, West Auckland, Bishop Auckland, at 8.15am – 10.30am (Thursday 17th August).

With presentations taking place from Malcolm Potter of the Business Energy Efficiency Programme (BEEP) informing you how you could receive a FREE Energy Audit potentially leading to practical improvements supported by Grant Funding.

Followed by John Atkinson, about the current Business Support options, for County Durham businesses available from NBSL.

If you have your own business or the business you work in is operating in the catchment area of either Bishop Auckland or Shildon, you may wish to go along to one of their free to attend events.

To register for tomorrow’s event please click on the attached link: 

Otherwise you may wish to make a note of the September date of Thursday 28th September that will be held at Bishop Auckland Golf Club.


For more information or to read more of my articles please visit:




When I was first approached to be involved in this project, straight away I said yes, even without knowing what the whole campaign was about.

It was one of my easiest yes’s since I’ve started writing.

I’ve mentioned many times since April and after attending the UK Blog Awards, that their underlying message was regarding ‘collaborations’.

It’s something that I’ve identified ever since with, and for me this project was always going to be a yes, because of the person who had asked me to become involved.

The person behind the #ILiveItIBlogIt campaign is a man called John Sennett, you can read more about him and his journey here:

John isn’t someone I have met, but someone I know, someone who inspires me just from being part of the same community which is ‘blogging’.

And this campaign is what blogging is all about.

It’s about sharing your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, your creativity, and having the courage and belief to share them with the world, for some to either judge you or others to become inspired by your words, your pictures, your delivery and what you believe in, to be voiced in exactly your own way.

The #ILiveItIBlogIt campaign is bringing the blogging world together to celebrate diversity and individuality, and the stories we all have to share.

There are many people sharing their stories using this hashtag over all social media platforms, sharing how blogging started for them, how it has helped them, inspired them, how passions have developed or have added a level of confidence for them.

Blogging isn’t just a word, it sits ahead of a very loyal community, where everyone has a story to tell and a voice to be heard, where support and guidance go hand in hand with each other.

Ultimately everyone starts by writing for themselves, a hobby, a vision, a drive, a passion, for a release, but once you get those words down on paper, or your computer, or just out of your own head, they flow, they start to make perfect sense.

You inspire yourself to write your next one, and the one after that and so on, it’s certainly transformed my life.

So after being approached to share my contribution, my thought process clicked in and I asked myself a question on what was I going to write about?

Initally, I thought it would be around my experience with depression and recovery, something that has been extremely challenging and difficult for me during the last 10 months.

And in the last few days and even so much as this morning, I thought and I was going to do two different blogs covering both my journey with ‘depression’ and another one on ‘community’.

But in reality I don’t need to split them as they both actually flow into each other.



This is where my blogging journey started, it started with ‘community’ and it still does and always will remain to do just that.

I may have inadvertently found a passion for writing, but equally and if not more I’ve found a passion for my community too.

The town, the people, the passion, the loyalty.

‘Kynren’ was my first jaunt into writing, and who knew that inside 10 months I would be able to take a blank piece of paper and take it to a National finals.


To this day, this is my visual aid, it shows me that anything can be achieved as long as you back yourself.

Which leads me into what would have been article number two:

Depression and Mental Health Awareness


To achieve what I have achieved so far is a real testament to myself, but to do all of this whilst going through depression is something quite remarkable.

Something that I can truly look back on, and be proud of myself.

I was diagnosed with depression in November of last year, the awards were something I had entered to give me some focus, something to cling onto, and keep me occupied.

Something I truly never of expected to go anywhere but it did, and because of writing my first blog, it played a massive part in my ongoing recovery by writing my second one too.

I found writing a blog on my depression and recovery a way of releasing all my thoughts, all my emotions, and not allowing my depression to keep gaining control of who I really was, who I really am.

It’s been a struggle, a huge personal battle, depression is an awful illness, it robs you of your whole identity, your self belief, and your self worth.

And it’s something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I do talk about depression and speak out about mental health awareness, openly and honestly, because it’s important.

Many people believe mental health comes with a stigma and it does, but a stigma is described in the Oxford Dictionary as “A strong feeling of disapproval that most people in a society have about something”

That something is just a lack of information or a lack of understanding on the illness.

So for me it’s important to make people aware that not only is mental health related illnesses awful to have, an illness that anyone can have, at any stage of your life, it’s also important to write, talk and be open, that there is always hope, and if you can give yourself time, be patient, and get the right help that you need for you, as depression isn’t a one word suits all illness, you can, like I have, find your way back.

Which leads me onto what I’m doing now.

In the last few months I didn’t want depression to define me, something I couldn’t be sure either way if I’m perfectly honest, but during that time, I’m better, I’m recovering, and although depression will always be with me, I know how to live with it and it will no longer have that hold on my life.

Closing off, I’m back to writing more about the community, my community, the community I’m loyal too, and passionate for.

I want to remind local residents of what we have, against what we don’t, I want to encourage visitors into the area of Bishop Auckland, inspired by each of my articles, to be lost in my words, my passion and my desire to help it grow.

Blogging has changed my life, it’s given me a passion, it’s given me encouragement, it’s given me support, an outlet, a voice, but ultimately it has given me hope.

‘Hope’ that as long as you believe in yourself, anything, anything at all can be possible.

If you would like to read any of my blog articles, please click on the attached links:

‘Kynren’ My Experience –

Black behind my eyes –

Andrew Corry Blog –


‘Full Moon’ Street Food Market


On Friday 11th August, Bishop Auckland’s ‘Full Moon’ Street Food Market returns, building on its first successful event last month.

Organised by The Durham Street Food Project in association with both Durham Markets and Bishop Auckland Market.

Last month’s event was a roaring success, around 9 or 10 food and drink vendors attended, and were supported by 3 acoustic performances throughout the evening.

It was great to see the Bishop Auckland Market Place a hive of activity, enjoyed by many local residents, and visitors to the area which included the Kynren show.

It was nice to see, there were many families and friends socialising within the central point of our town, soaking up the atmosphere, whilst enjoying some fabulous culinary food and hand crafted beers too.

It was a good opportunity at the end of the week to come together and enjoy a good event and catch up with people I hadn’t seen in awhile.

For me, I think this street food market compliments the town’s offerings, bringing more residents and visitors into the market place, with pubs, cafes and restaurants open providing any visitors with an alternative choice, or an opportunity to go on somewhere after.

Hopefully an event that will continue to be supported and become a monthly event in the future too.

The above images were of some of the above businesses who attended last month.

The full attendees list returning to the street market tonight are:

The Asian Project 

The French Pop Up

Crispy Conewich

Smoke Dokies

The Green Guerrilla

Barista Sisters


Ice Cream Van

And local Bishop Auckland businesses:

Caps Off


The Auckland Cupcake Co.


Belgian Waffle Tuk


With live entertainment being provided tonight by Middlesbrough band ‘Swilly Chill’.

Heading to the event by car?

Don’t be deterred.

Yes there is another fantastic performance of the Kynren show tonight, but there are still many car parks to choose from, you may even wish to buy last minute tickets and go along to the show too, it’s highly recommended.

Castle Chard Car Park

Victoria Avenue Car Park

Kingsway Car Park

Tenters Street Car Park

All of the above Durham County Council car parks are free after 6pm, or follow the boards for payment structures prior to 6pm.

Whilst you are here you may wish to take a look in the old McIntyre’s shop in Newgate Street, where Bishop Auckland College have had an Arts Exhibition throughout the Summer.

Tonight they are accompanied by musicians performing until 8pm.

Alternatively, you could also pay a visit to Fore Bondgate businesses Gillian Arnold Boutique were you can see the finished article of their ‘On The Map’ project.

And Bondgate Gallery taking in their impressive collection including this outstanding Kynren painting by owner Eric Thompson.

Whatever the weather it should be another fantastic event, come along and support Bishop Auckland.


For more information or to read more of my articles please visit:



Bishop Auckland College Performing Arts


Last month I attended the Bishop Auckland College Performing Arts department’s ‘One Night Only’ end of year variety showcase.

As a local resident you often don’t appreciate what is right on your own doorstep, I know I didn’t, but Bishop Auckland College is the gateway to so many choices, options and most of all opportunities.

And with it, they are having such a positive impact on so many students within their college, as both their Performing Arts students demonstrated on this night, as equally as much, as the Art and Photography students have proved during their Art Exhibition within the town centre.

The ‘One Night Only’ showcase was organised and arranged by the Performing Arts department and their students, and collectively they only decided to present and perform their show 2 weeks prior to their show night.

All 11 performing students can be immensely proud of their performances on the evening.

The students performed an array of scenes, each one performed with passion, character and confidence, covering scenes from well-known shows ‘Cats’ and the ‘Lion King’ alongside pitch perfect vocals to a wide range of songs, including ‘Les Miserables’.

The audience who were filled with many family and friends as well as local residents, couldn’t help but be impressed with the students teamwork and individual abilities, especially once we had heard they had pulled together the full show in just a couple of weeks.

Bishop Auckland can be extremely proud of their next generation, as the talented students put on a fantastic showcase of choreographed dancing, singing and acting, expressing pure emotion with every piece that they performed.

The action packed showcase was well worth more than its token entry fee of £1.00 per person.

In summary for me, I attended the variety performance as I felt as a local resident that it was important to go, important to go and support the local students who learn their crafts within our own community.

What I wasn’t expecting was to be wowed with the standard of the performances, as I sat, watched, and was mesmerised by.

Well done to all Bishop Auckland College Performing Arts students and tutors, for putting on a hugely impressive show.

Bishop Auckland College is literally just up the road from where I live, no more than a 5 minute walk, but it offers so much more than just further education, apprenticeships, and a wide range of full and part time courses.

The college also caters for college students, staff and the general public with facilities that include a children’s nursery and hair and beauty salons.

To learn more about Bishop Auckland College and the courses they can provide please visit their website:

Their next Open Evening will take place on Tuesday 17th October 2017.

For more information or to read more of my articles please visit:

Nothing ever just happens.


For me personally, it’s something I have been reflecting on in the last few weeks, both about myself and of our town.

To think back, remember, realise and if I could rewind myself back to the very start.

Just over a year ago not only did I decide half heartedly may I add, to start writing entries to my own Kynren journey, but I amongst probably many of my friends and family wouldn’t have expected that I could sustain writing over a period of time, never mind that it would light a fire inside myself and create a passion.


Nor did I ever think it would lead me to becoming a National Awards Finalist either.

Things don’t just happen, not on there own, not without personal sacrifice, hard work, determination and most of all patience.

You have to remember why you start something, ultimately it’s because you wanted to better yourself, to challenge yourself, to not limit your own capabilities.

Looking back I realise I’m in the position I’m in because of the choices I’ve made, the decisions that I’ve had to make and having the self belief to continue and remain patient, whilst the easiest thing in the world would be to stop.

I’m passionate and proud, stubborn at times too, I want the best future I can for myself and the people around me, including the community I live in.

I want to help and support, become one of the foundations to help this town stabilise itself and grow, to offer more opportunities to the next generation(s) to come.

There’s opportunity in this town, a buzz again, a community spirit, people are talking globally about Bishop Auckland and whilst our town centre isn’t quite there yet, there is certainly more to come.

There are many good people working hard in this town, residents, businesses, volunteers too, trying to make the place we call home a better place to live.

Opinions and perceptions are valid and everyone has a given right to voice them, but let’s turn them into giving Bishop Auckland it’s voice again, let’s create a positive vibe within our town, let’s all come together and help to promote positive change, let’s look towards our future rather than comparing it to our past.

What I most like, probably love about Bishop Auckland is its passion.

The passion amongst it’s people, I’ve never experienced it anything quite like it is here, the people are proud and it shows.

Yes for me I’m excited about how our developing town is changing, to how Kynren has changed us too, to how the art galleries and museums will encourage more visitors to our town with it.

To the Welcome Building, I’m already looking forward to experiencing the view from the watch tower platform for the very first time.

I’m excited about the potential, I’m excited about new investors who have and are setting up new businesses in our town.

And for me as a resident, what can I do?

I can always do more…

I can promote.

I can encourage.

I can support.

I can look to reach out to the bigger brands, investors, developers and businesses via social media platforms and encourage them to take a look at Bishop Auckland as their next location.

All things I’ve already been doing.

In order to have the town we want, we have to collectively support the one we have, in order to help it grow.

Bishop Auckland is more than just charity and betting shops and takeaways too.

Although each in their own right is a business, each having an impact on our community and we need them, we need them to encourage more businesses into our town.

Progress is happening within the town, perhaps not as quickly as some may like but it is happening, and it will continue to happen too.

The market is back, and it’s gradually growing.

Collectively now is the time to continue to promote what we have, to encourage those interested parties to join us, and help us to develop our hometown.

And that’s exactly what I will continue to do, I will continue to write free blogging articles on behalf of businesses, charities and the community, to help and promote them and raise their exposure, which in turn will hopefully continue to attract new customers and visitors into our town, as much as I hope new investors will too.

For more information or to read more of my blog articles please visit:

Smile4Claire Day


Saturday 29th July sees the return of the second annual music and family day, organised and in aid of Charity Trust, Smile4Claire.

Building on their successes from last year, this event is shaping up to be another fantastic occasion, that all the local community are quick to support and enjoy the day.

The event will be held once again at Bishop Auckland Cricket Club, with the event starting from 1pm onwards, with a wide range of live music and attractions that the whole family can enjoy.


Smile4Claire is a charity trust that was formed to honour the memory of Claire Shaw who sadly died last year from breast cancer which had spread to her brain.

Claire was a caring nurse and a popular friend that everyone loved, and from what her husband Andrew has told me about her I wish I could have met her, she sounds like she was a lovely person, who had a heart of gold, and touched the lives of many.

Claire was a naturally caring and optimistic person, who always went out of her way to help others and was rarely without a smile on her face.

The Smile4Claire Trust which is led by Claire’s husband Andrew, and friends Peter Baker and Jonathan Dixon, raise funds for local charities, as well as individuals and families affected by cancer and other serious illnesses.


Supporters of Smile4Claire have participated in a number of varied charity challenges since the trust has been formed including;

Last year’s music and family fun day.

Charity Night with a live band and auction.

Smile4Claire Dinner

Coast to Coast Bike Ride

Charity Football Matches

Along with 8 brave and willing supporters who signed up to take part in a skydive earlier this year.

The trust managed to raise a total of £7,035 last year, and are looking to raise a total of £10,000 this year.



On the family fun day, there will be a wide range of  musical talent to watch and listen too, with 5 bands and another 5 acoustic acts to keep everyone entertained.

The five bands performing are:

Oily Bum Print

The Thieves 

The She Wolf Project

Great Waves

The Giraffes


The 5 acoustic acts performing are:

Jodie Fitzgibbon 

Connor Hodgson

Aaron Smith

Chris Watkins

Chloe Nattrass


Alongside all of these musical acts, the family fun day will also have a range of stalls, fairground rides, bouncy castles, food stalls and beer tents.

With appearances from the Police Interceptors, Bishop FM and a performance from the Sandra Welsh Dance School.

How to buy tickets?

Tickets are on sale from: The Pavilion, The Top House, The Spice Lounge, The Smokehouse, all in Bishop Auckland. Alongside Smile4Claire organisers: Andrew Shaw, Peter Baker, Jonathan Dixon, Olivia Anderson, Paul Anderson and Shaun Robinson.

Tickets are priced at:

Adults £10.00

Children (6-16) £5.00

Under 5’s are free.

All money raised is in aid of the Smile4Claire Trust, who are supporting local charities.


To find out more information in regards to their event, please click on the below Facebook link and like their event page to follow their updates. 

For more information or to read more of my blog articles please visit:

‘On The Map’ by Gillian Arnold


You may have heard about the ‘On The Map’ project in the last few weeks, that is being delivered by local designers Gillian Arnold, based at 2B, Fore Bondgate, in Bishop Auckland.

But what is it all about?

‘On The Map’ is a community project bringing together collective works from a diverse range of people from Bishop Auckland.

Building a large collaborative map, this will be printed, and delivered to every Bishop Auckland household, with the original on display in a pop-up gallery shop in town.

The map’s project core objective is to highlight the beauty of the town including Bishop Auckland’s rich historical past, it’s very exciting present and even looking forward to a bright future.

Gillian really wanted to find a way to make sure as many residents in Bishop Auckland as possible have access to the map and this project.


On The Map is focused around the Bishop Auckland area, with hand drawn locations and landmarks that represent the area and the town.

The scale of the map however, is huge.

The overall banner will be hung on fabric stretching around 3 metres x 3 metres.

Gillian Arnold are looking for people to draw their favourite shop, landmark, or house.

By picking up a pen, pencil, crayon, charcoal, paintbrush or anything else, and hand draw for their chance to see their work become part of this large 3 metre square map in a new pop-up gallery shop in the town, and printed and distributed to every house in Bishop Auckland.

Gillian has been leading workshops involving people from all parts of the community and many schools, creating individual drawings of buildings, cultural landmarks, people, items and objects to bring Bishop Auckland to life in a new and artistic way.

The greatest part about the map, is the people who are making it, this is a map for the community and town that has been made by hundreds of people living with its borders.

Nearly all the individual drawings have been based on Gillian’s own photography, after spending several days photographing every building and cultural landmark in the town.



Taking all the hand drawn elements and comprising them into a map to represent the entire town is a huge task.

Gillian and her team have been working around the clock scanning, scaling, sizing and loving the hundreds of drawings that have been made so far.

They have also had no shortage of people willing to donate their time to help them along, which has been fantastic to see.

The map will be published in The Bishop Press on their 15th of July edition with an editorial on the project and will be hanging in the Gillian Arnold Boutique throughout the summer when Kynren is on.

Prints will be available of the map after the project is completed and all profits from the sale of art prints will be given to newly setup Pineapple Castle C.I.C. by Gillian Arnold to help fund future community orientated projects and disadvantaged people in Bishop Auckland.

Gillian Arnold are asking people to send scans of their work by no later than Saturday 8th July to them as either a message on Facebook, or emailed to: or bring the picture to the Gillian Arnold shop at 2B Fore Bondgate.


Gillian said about the map:

“At first the map was largely about tackling aspects of negativity in the public’ opinion about all of the changes that have happened in Bishop Auckland.

Now that the project is underway, after working with so many amazing people and seeing how many people have reached out to be involved, I can see this map is more about reinforcing the positivity, because there really is so much of it out there”.

For more information for the ‘On The Map’ project please click on their Facebook link, or alternatively for more information on Gillian Arnold, please click on the link for their website.

For more information or to read more of my blog articles please visit: