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Francesca Boyle, ‘Adventures of a Digitabulist’

Meet some real-life heroes in my series of special interviews with people who represent the spirit and heart of the North East.  

Francesca Boyle likes to explore the North East and write about her adventures on her blog ‘Adventures of a Digitabulist’ and works as a Communications Officer at Beamish Museum in County Durham.  

In this interview, Francesca tells us about her favourite North East song, her own North East heroes, and more… 

 

Francesca, please tell us a bit about you and your connection with the North East. 

I was born and brought up in the North East. I moved away for university in 2009, spending four years living in Preston, Lancashire as I studied for a BA Journalism and an MA Photography. The North West never really felt like home and I always knew I would return to the North East after university.   When I’m not at work as part of the Communications Team at Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, I enjoy exploring the North East and writing about my adventures on my blog. 

 

Tell us about your work at Beamish Museum, its history and the role it plays in the region today. 

Beamish was founded in 1970 by Frank Atkinson to preserve the region’s everyday ways of life for future generations to experience, including customs, traditions and dialect.   Costumed staff and volunteers bring the stories of the North East to life, with buildings and objects donated from across the region, at 1820s Pockerley, The 1900s Town, The 1900s Pit Village, The 1940s Farm and the 1950s welfare hall.  For the past 50 years, the museum has been a much-loved North East attraction – lots of people in the North East (myself included) have very fond memories of school trips to the museum! 

 

A visit to Beamish really is so special! 

It’s often said that the people and landscapes of the North East are full of ‘spirit’ and ‘heart’. Tell us, what do you love most about the region? 

I love that the North East has everything – busy cities, beautiful landscapes, a stunning coastline, fascinating history and, of course, friendly people! 

 

I definitely agree! Is there one place in the North East that you always like to visit and would recommend to others? 

The region has so much to offer that it’s impossible to pick just one place! Other than a day trip to Beamish Museum, I love to visit Whitley Bay and Tynemouth – I got married at St Mary’s Lighthouse so that area is very special to me! 

 

Do you have a favourite shop or business you think everyone should know about in the region? 

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to independent shops and businesses in the North East! I love the Glamorous Owl in Newcastle – not only does Claire stock a beautiful range of items made by local artists, she runs silver jewellery making courses which are fantastic.   I also love trips to Battlesteads Observatory. We’re very lucky to have some fantastic dark skies in Northumberland and the team at Battlesteads run brilliant and informative stargazing sessions.  

 

Great recommendations there. Which three words best describe the North East to you? 

‘Friendly’, ‘fascinating’, ‘home’! 

 

The North East is packed with history, myths and legends, songs and folklore. Do you have a favourite song or verse that you associate with the area? 

The Blaydon Races – my Dad is a runner and I’ve spent many a weekend spectating and cheering him on at races all over the country, The Blaydon Race is one of the races I still love going to watch. When I was younger, my Grandma and I used to stand and sing the song as we waited for the runners to arrive! 

 

Who do you think is a hero in the North East?  

The North East has produced so many brilliant people who have gone on to do amazing things. Someone I see as a North East hero is Jane Nattrass, Charity Director at Henry Dancer Days  Henry Dancer Days was set up in memory of Henry Dancer, who died in 2010 from Osteosarcoma, aged just 12. Jane founded the charity to support children and young people with primary bone cancer. In 2015, Jane set up The Storytelling Project at the Paediatric Oncology wards at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle and the charity now works in seven hospitals across the UK.  

 

Finally, tell us what makes you smile? 

Being out and about in the North East! 

 

I couldn’t agree more! Thank you so much Francesca for joining me, I loved hearing about your recommendations and your work at Beamish.  

Thank you to Kate Baguley for coordinating these special interviews.

Image (c) Donna-Lisa Healy