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Schoolchildren design plaque for Dales centre’s 25th birthday

ByDave Stopher

Oct 9, 2016

The children, from Stanhope Barrington Primary School, in Weardale, had been asked by staff at Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, to design an image to represent the Durham Dales Centre and what it meant to them.

Marie Land, owner of Gemcraft, is the longest-serving tenant at the Dales Centre, and chose the winning design, created by Chloe Bell, age seven. Marie also provided the prizes for second place won by Elizabeth Leadbitter, ten, and third place won by Holly Roper-Edwards, eight. The plaque was then unveiled in the courtyard of the Stanhope-based centre.

The unveiling came as a free family fun event was held the following day, which had children’s crafts and face painting, along with visits from the Fire Brigade, Mountain Rescue, Air Ambulance, and even Spiderman and Snow White. Visitors enjoyed a cup of tea or coffee in the café at 1991 prices and special cupcakes were designed for the day. People also got the chance to ‘Meet the Maker’ with scores of crafters, artists and small business owners showing their work.

Peter McDowell, business property director, for Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, said: “The Durham Dales Centre has proven to be a place for enterprise, art and culture and it was fantastic to see so many people there celebrating its anniversary at the fun day.”

The Dales Garden was officially opened by hill farmer Hannah Hawkswell in 1991 after it had been an exhibit at the Gateshead International Garden Festival. The extension was added to house the business centre in 2001 and two years ago the courtyard was developed with the addition of sculptures, sensory plants and children’s play items.

Its Tourist Information Centre has won numerous awards and, as well as businesses, there is a gift shop, tea room and crafts for sale.