The county day celebration, Northumberland Day, has launched a mascot and ambassador in the form of a cute little guy called ‘Northumbear’ – a delightful, jointed mohair teddy bear designed by Cumbrian, Sooz Perry!
Whilst Northumbear proudly sports the county colours of Northumberland and is ready to set his county folk some big challenges, he would not have been launched if Sooz – the creative talent behind small business, BearTonBorough – had not exhibited at the North Tourism Fair in Alnwick, back in March. There, she met the originator and organiser of Northumberland Day, Jane Hunt, managing director of Catapult PR, who just happens to be a Lancastrian! Jane spotted Sooz’s cuddly family and took advantage of Sooz’s bespoke service, to have Northumbear created.
Northumbear has already met up with some of the passionate people who celebrate Northumberland’s county day with gusto and many have asked if he is a Steiff bear. Whilst he has many of the charming characteristics of Steiff, he is very much a bear designed by a 35-year-old who hails from West Cumbria, who has now crossed the border into Northumberland and who works part-time at Gateshead’s Metro Centre, as a waitress.
Sooz learned to sew at an early age and went on to study textiles for A’ Level. She was taught how to make bears around nine years ago, being trained by Emily, the owner of Emily’s Ark, a business formerly located in Hexham.
As a creative intern studying with Emily, Sooz, who has a degree in American Studies and Sociology from Keele University, was taught how to devise patterns for a range of animals. This skill was not put into practice until she made some bears for her best friend’s children. Now, she is building up BearTonBorough by attending events such as the forthcoming Textravaganza, to be staged at Rheged near Penrith on June 8 and 9. Her range of handmade bears, rabbits and elephants, plus memory bears, will soon be expanded to include a camel.
Sooz says: “I was really surprised when contacted and asked to make the official Northumberland Day mascot, which is a real honour. I have loved creating Northumbear and am so glad to see and hear the reaction of those who have already got to know him. Hopefully, this will be a big boost to my part-time business, as well as Northumberland Day.”
Northumbear is not alone in his new Northumberland Day home. Alongside him sits a faithful friend commissioned through Sooz, called NElephant, who never forgets Northumberland Day. NElephant likes to make sure Northumbear focuses and does all he can to engage participants and communities. But that’s not all, as Northumbear’s little brother also has a special part to play.
Northumbear’s brother is currently nameless and the public are being asked to suggest a suitable name, in order to win this lovely bear. Whoever wins Northumbear’s brother, whether it is a child, a grown-up, or a granny or grandad who wants a friend, will feature in a children’s storybook, to be created for Northumberland Day 2020, which will see all three of Sooz’s creations playing a part in the story. For this reason, entrants to the competition must give Northumbear’s brother a good, loving and permanent home.
But that is not all. In the run up to Northumberland Day 2019, which takes place on Sunday May 26 this year, Northumbear will be setting social media followers a challenge, thanks to support from the Saltwater Café in Beadnell, on Northumberland’s upper coast.
Northumbear will be heading around Northumberland, to be photographed in a variety of different places, teasing Northumbrians, via social media, to guess where he has been, over the course of the week leading up to May 26. Both visual and written clues will be provided but thinking caps and keen eyes will be required.
The winner of the competition will be treated to a very special Teddy Bear’s Picnic afternoon tea at the Saltwater Café, to which they can take their own favourite bear.
Northumberland Day organiser, Jane Hunt, adds: “We felt it time we had our own mascot, but wanted to find a cute and loveable character who would appeal to both children and adults alike and be the face of Northumberland Day. When I discovered Sooz and her bears, I knew that I had found the right mascot maker. We are planning lots of exciting things for this year and next, now we have Northumbear in our team.”
Northumberland’s county day is fast approaching and can, of course, be celebrated by any Northumbrians living in Cumbria. For more information visit www.northumberlandday.co.uk