Last week’s day in the office marked the third month of my placement at Great North Run Culture and the weeks have flown by so quickly that I have to question if it’s really August already!
Since my arrival at the office I have been cocooned in a hive of activity and excitement; within minutes of my first morning, I was bustled into the Boardroom to be introduced to the plans for the Great North Run Million Opening Ceremony; a huge event to celebrate the millionth finish of the GNR – the first running event in the world to reach this milestone number. This will be the biggest party the North East of England has ever seen, and the plans promise the region the celebration it deserves. It draws on the energy of the 1 million runners that have taken part in the run over the years and the North East’s poignant history as the industrial engine room of the country. Upon its very first unveiling in the crowded meeting room, The GNR Million Opening Ceremony gained a proud supporter in me. The months following having proved that the spirit of the North East never fails to get into the bones of you.
In the last few months the Culture Team has been full steam ahead, with the Opening Ceremony being officially launched to the public on the 12th of June. Our director, Beth Bate, looked radiant in yellow alongside renowned artistic director Bradley Hemmings and author David Almond, who introduced the event at its promised location on the NewcastleGateshead Quayside. Part of that launch was the call for a Mass Cast of volunteer performers to take part in the Opening Ceremony and embody the energy and passion of the event, engaging with the audience and representing the strong sense of community in our region throughout the event. At this point began my own work in assisting in the recruitment of said volunteers which meant a lot of phone calls and a lot of talking (which I happen to be quite good at)! But it hasn’t all been office work and phone calls for me, oh no! Following the first few weeks I quickly realised that planning for the day ahead was pointless and that no day was ever the same at the GNR Culture hub.
June 25th was one of those days where I saw the office for all of ten minutes before I joined Beth in her excursion to South Shields high-street to visit the location of the first ‘Great North Greats’ exhibition in our rolling programme. 105 Kings Street poses as an empty shop unit, but really it is the site of what is soon to be the first event of this year’s programme (even before the Opening Ceremony) - celebrating the greatest names to come from the North East and forging the strong connections between industry and sport in the region. The exhibition is intended to travel the route of the run over the course of the coming year, gaining in size and content up until its final opening in September 2015 and South Shields was the perfect place to start, right at the finish of the Great North Run. Throughout the rest of the day I accompanied Beth, meeting exhibition designers, graphic designers and finally rolling up to BBC Radio Newcastle for a slot with Jon and Ann to talk about all things GNR Million.
Although I’ve been with the culture team many days since the 25th, I find that this summary explains just how fast-paced and involved my placement with Great North Run Culture has been so far, along with giving you a tiny inkling of my increasing excitement for the next few weeks that lead up to the Great North Run Million Opening Ceremony.