The streets of Northumberland are filled with New Year’s traditions dating back centuries

The streets of Northumberland are filled with New Year’s traditions dating back centuries

Thousands of people lined the streets of a Northumberland village on New Year’s Day to witness a centuries-old tradition.

The Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race is held on the first day of every year, starting and finishing at the Blackbird Pub on North Road. 120 participants took part in four races, including men’s, women’s and children’s qualifiers.



The fourth race, the all-around race, was integrated into the women’s race for the first time, allowing young people with learning difficulties and physical disabilities the opportunity to compete. Despite the dry and sunny conditions, a cool breeze affected the times – although James Leeper and Robert Hold retained their 2023 title in the men’s race, they were 29 seconds slower than they were in 2023.

The women’s race was won by first-time participants Lucy Hinds and Abigail Elam, with a time of 10 minutes and four seconds, while the all-around race was won by Sarah McDougle and Thomas Fretwell, who recorded the same time. Junior race winners were Millie and Kate Johnson.

The race is not only meant to be a fun New Year’s treat, but is also seen as a way to raise money for charities. The barrows are sponsored by local businesses and individuals, and the funds, plus entry fees, program sales and bucket collections, are split between St. Mary’s. Oswald’s Hospice in Gosforth and Tynedale Hospice at Home in Northumberland.

Steve Roberts, a race team member with organizers Ponteland 41 Club, told ChronicleLive the event was worth around £3,000 for the two charities. “It was great, the weather was good,” he added.
“We probably had the biggest crowds possible, a large number of participants, and it went very well. It’s a tradition in Puntland, and most people are aware of that.”

“A lot of people who actually participate in the race enter it year after year, and it goes through the generations. You have mothers and fathers who did it in the past, and their 30- to 35-year-old offspring and their wives or siblings are the ones who do it, and now it’s passed on to the next generation with the younger ones.” Who are actually the third generation.”

Matthew Crowe, from Tynedale Hospice at Home, said: “It was great to be part of such a fantastic event again. Crowds came out in large numbers to enjoy the day with family and friends and it was great to see our volunteers raising awareness of the services we provide at Tynedale Hospice at Home. The organizers of this event are doing a fantastic job and we feel very lucky to have been chosen to participate.”

New Year’s Day wheelbarrow race winners in Ponteland

Open race

  1. James Lieber and Robert Held
  2. Callum Johnson and Louis Hogg
  3. Alun Woodward and Rob Laverick

Women’s race

  1. Lucy Hinds and Abigail Elam
  2. Samantha Walton and Yvonne Lees
  3. Rachel Nicholl and Billy Moody


All-round racing

  1. Sarah McDougle and Thomas Fretwell
  2. Joe Shallcross and William Fretwell
  3. Mark Linklater and Lewis Wood

Junior race

  1. Millie and Kate Johnson
  2. Sam and Anna Heinz
  3. Ella and John Leeper

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