North East shares secrets of its friendly reputation



8 September 2009


What makes Geordies and the people of North East England so friendly and easygoing? Think Cheryl Cole, Ant and Dec or the late Sir Bobby Robson. The people of North East England are known for being down to earth, easygoing and passionate about life.

Just last month, a survey by Hotel chain Travelodge found that Newcastle is officially Britain’s friendliest city. The answer? Tranquillity, and lots of it, according to research highlighted at the start of the third annual UK Peace and Tranquillity Week.

A nationwide survey by the Campaign to Protect Rural England identifies North East England as officially Britain’s most peaceful and tranquil region and says getting back to nature in beauty spots can reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and help people feel healthier and happier.

Two of the five most tranquil places in Britain are in the North East, with Northumberland and County Durham achieving mean tranquillity scores of 28.6 and 12.0 compared to -76.7 for Greater London and -64.4 for the West Midlands conurbation in the CPRE mapping survey.

Now, tourism officials in the region are inviting people across Britain to share in the region’s tranquillity by hosting a week of events dedicated to chilling out.

Open air picnics, free classical music concerts, yoga and tai chi gatherings, gardens illuminated by thousands of candles and workshops on painting and photography in areas of outstanding natural beauty are just some of the events taking place during UK Peace and Tranquillity Week from September 7-13 in Durham.

Melanie Sensicle, chief executive of County Durham Tourism Partnership (CDTP), said: “Living in Britain’s cities and built up urban areas can be stressful, as crowds, traffic congestion, noise and light pollution make it difficult for people to relax.

We are lucky enough to have tranquillity in spades in North East England and we set this week up as an open invitation to everyone to come and experience a place bursting with peaceful and beautiful places.”

Full details of the week of events can be found at thisisdurham.com/relax. Images and video from UK Peace and Tranquillity Week 2007 and 2008 can be found by searching on Facebook for UK Peace and Tranquillity Week, at facebook.com, or at video sharing site youtube.com.

Tranquillity was defined by CPRE as being: the ability to see a natural landscape, hear birdsong, natural sounds, the sound of oceans and streams, seeing stars at night, seeing wildlife and avoiding congestion, light pollution and high levels of urban population density.

Mental health charities in Britain have recently reported big increases in people contacting them about worries caused by the recession, and, it would seem the country now has many reasons to feel anxious and stressed.

While not a cure all for the impact of “recession depression” on the nation’s health, the value of escaping to rural areas for natural stress relief is something leading charities are committed to promoting.

Katie Prior, from mental health charity Mind, said: “A recent study carried out by Mind found that after a short country walk 71 per cent of people reported a decrease in depression and 90 per cent had increased self-esteem. Green exercise is a medication free, cost free and natural therapy that can be as simple as taking a bike ride in a local park, joining a local walking group or planting bulbs in a garden.”


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