Songs of Praise is coming to Northumberland Coast later this month
Northumberland has already hosted one quintessential Sunday programme this month and on May 22, another airs from the county.
After Woodhorn Museum hosted Antiques Roadshow on May 8, Songs of Praise returns two weeks later. The BBC filmed the upcoming episode at Northumberland Wildlife Trust's reserves at Druridge Pools and East Chevington, just south of Amble.
As well as time spent at the reserves, the programme features Even Sparrows, a Christian organisation that runs bird watching retreats throughout Northumberland. Their retreats most commonly run on Holy Island, a special place due to its connections to St Aidan who founded the monastery there and one of its monks, St Cuthbert, who was responsible for bringing Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons.
The Even Sparrows retreats, run by Mark Winter, a former trustee of the wildlife charity, are best described as birdwatching at a slow pace with prayer and the opportunity for silent reflection while listening to birdsong. As part of the programme, Mike Pratt, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, was filmed speaking about how the charity works constantly to remind people about the way nature inspires and connects everybody to the bigger picture of all life.
He was also keen to stress that nature offers mental, emotional and physical support - especially over the past two years during the pandemic when many sought solace in the natural world. Throughout the course of filming, both Mark and Mike rejoiced and how life affirming it is to live among such wildlife.
Where is your favourite place for some quiet reflection in Northumberland? Let us know in the comments below!
At the Druridge Pools there was discussion about migrating swallows and wading and wildfowl birds which the reserve is noted for, while at East Chevington, the birdwatching group was filmed in front of the bird watching hide watching birds before a prayer and silent meditation with birds such as cetti and reed warblers singing loudly.
Mark Winter, who has run Even Sparrow retreats for nearly 20 years now, runs three or four events in Northumberland each year, but his work has also taken him to the Midlands and Spain. He said: "Obviously birds are found all over the world, so wherever they are, it's appropriate (to run a retreat)."
"I have a special connection with Holy Island and most of my retreats have been run there, but increasingly in the East Chevington and Druridge Bay area, which was so good for Songs of Praise. There's going to be footage of East Chevington and Druridge Pools and they're excellent havens for wildlife, and they remind us of the beauty of nature and even reclaimed land, as East Chevington is a reclaimed open cast coal site.
"I enjoyed the experience. I was out with a team of people who had been on retreat and we had a day out watching birds and worshipping God and spending time in prayer and silence.
"When I say silence, we had birdsong all around us, but that was part of the appeal. The sense that we can see wildlife and God's creations when we're out in the field."
Speaking about his Songs of Praise experience, Mike Pratt of Northumberland Wildlife Trust added: "Saints Cuthbert and Aiden worshipped outdoor, so our reserves in Northumberland couldn’t be more appropriate places to connect people’s hearts and souls to the spirit of nature and all existence. Whatever an individual’s beliefs, you cannot but marvel at all this of which people are an integral part. "
Songs of Praise will air at 1.15pm on Sunday May 22. It will be available shortly afterwards on iPlayer.
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