Tag Archives: BishopAuckland

UK Blog Awards 2017


Well here we are, Friday 21st April, the long countdown since finding out back in January that I became a finalist in these National awards.

And it now all comes down to tonight.

In all honesty there are no nerves, or certainly no nerves at the moment, I’ve done everything that I can do.

The pressure is well and truly off, even if it was ever on in the first place.

I’m not going to lie, now the day is here, everyone wants to win it badly, everyone has hope, and everyone deserves it too, and I’m very much no different.

But will I win?

Probably not, and I know friends, family, fellow volunteers, have been trying to tell me I might, and yes I might, you just never know.

But in all honesty I feel in my heart and my head that it will come as a surprise, and for me an unexpected, but welcome shock if it were to happen.

The objective of these awards has never been the recognition, but has been totally humbling to receive it in the process, one I thank every person who had taken the time to vote for.

One thing some won’t know, I mentioned last weekend, I have got depression, when I first entered these awards I did it for two reasons.

One to raise more exposure for the Kynren project and to hopefully attract more visitors to Bishop Auckland.

That’s always been my primary objective, and I already know that I’ve achieved that target.

The promotion work I’ve done over the last 4 months has been second to none.

Not has it been very important to promote the Kynren project, alongside myself, but it has been important to me to help, support and promote the UK Blog Awards and build up further awareness of them too.

I head to London today knowing that the impact I’ve made with regular promotion, radio and television interviews have placed me in a position that might just trigger that all important reactions tonight of:

‘What is Kynren?’

And as volunteers we already know that when each of these individuals type in their search bars on Google, the word ‘Kynren’ and watch the preview video of last year’s show they cannot fail to be impressed, because as the title goes it is Epic.

If you’ve not heard about it before, click here: https://www.facebook.com/Elevenarches/videos/1227949433938702/

Prepare to have you minds blown, with a fantastic spectacle before your own eyes, brought to you by hundreds of volunteers, let the music capture your attention and enjoy our journey.

The 1,500 strong volunteers can’t wait to welcome you and deliver 17 stunning performances this Summer.

The second point I’d like to talk about is me, not this blog, not the Kynren project, not the promotion, not the awards, just me.

What a lot of people won’t be aware of, as mentioned above I have depression, I don’t hide behind it, one of the most important steps that I acknowledge has been the process of being honest with myself and open to everyone, and to not hide behind it any longer.

When I entered these awards, it came about by chance, I’d just been diagnosed with depression, I was in a low, dark depressional cycle, I happened to stumble upon it on a Google search.

On the day I searched it, the closing date for entries was the end of that week, I entered based on two reasons, the one above which I’ve described and quite frankly my real objective, but two, to try and give myself some focus, some clarity, something to concentrate on.

And it’s worked, I don’t need to win tonight, yes it would be nice, I’ll be high on emotions if I do, but I don’t need to have my name called out tonight, because I’ve far achieved all I ever needed too.

Both for the Kynren project and for my wellbeing.

Becoming a finalist has strengthened me, it’s reaffirmed that I can write, my content is good, I have an ability to put the reader in the words, and when they are reading they feel they are the ones living it.


As the quote goes that’s exactly how I feel I write, lots of readers have commented the same too, it’s sparked an interest to learn more, some have gone on to volunteer, others have booked tickets, the important thing is I captured the attention of many people Worldwide who may not have heard about it.

If you are attending tonight, please ask me, that’s what I’m here for.

I’m now part of a blogging community, which is rich in talent, that is supportive and helpful, that is fun and meaningful, and tonight is a celebration of what this industry is all about.

Fast growing, impact hitting in all topics and overall extremely worthwhile for both the writer, the brands and the charitable causes too.

No matter what happens tonight, I’m here for the ride, I’m here for the experience, and to take it all in, I’m here to meet new friends and make plenty more in the process.

And a final note goes out to all the other 258 finalists, in all categories, Congratulations and the very best of luck, we are all deserving finalists but the real winner tonight is ‘Blogging’

Raising more awareness of the true impact it can offer in our society.

Good Luck and I’ll see you all tonight.

Daring to Dream


With the UK Blog Awards now just a mere 4 weeks away, time is being afforded to dream.

In all honesty I’ve been allowing myself to dream big, well before now.

How can you not, it’s a big deal right, the UK Blog Awards is the biggest awards night in it’s industry, it’s a recognised National Award, with over 2,400 entries this year.

Whittled down to 259 finalists, across two different entries of either individual or business, in 17 different categories.

My Kynren Blog is only 1 of 7 listed North East Finalists, and the only 1 from County Durham.

Regardless of winning, it’s already a huge achievement in itself.

But as much as you afford yourself the time to dare to dream, it’s not actually about the winning.

It’s not been the key ingredient that I’m at this point, of course, everyone wants to win, but it’s not why I entered.

Several weeks ago I returned to a question I often ask myself in regards to everything that I do.


I took the time out to remind myself of why I started, and not just on how I came to become a finalist at this year’s awards either.

I started this blog a year ago, in March of last year, I started it because in all honesty it seemed a good idea at the time, I wanted to record my journey through the Kynren process to one day look back on.

I’m not going to lie either, I didn’t find writing, over time writing found me.

I remember starting the blog, writing a couple of entries and then life took over and I slipped, on the Friday before the first show, the debut show on Saturday 2nd July 2016, I sat down and wrote and uploaded around 10 or 12 blogs to update my blog against it’s current timeline, and since then I’ve not looked back.

I’ve had the pleasure of writing a guest article for The Official Tourism Website of Durham – ‘This is Durham’ in July of last year writing a bespoke piece of what it is like to volunteer at Kynren.

And each blog entry since then has just told my story and my journey, in my own words and has captured my audience’s attention.

I have many readers, mainly across the UK but it has been read across numerous countries worldwide too.

And with that comes back to the reason why I started it.

It’s never been about the likes or the views, it’s great that so many people can and do relate to it.

But it wasn’t my drive to start it, and it’s still not my drive to continue with it.

Kynren is an ‘Epic Tale of England’, the award winning, spectacular open-air night show, run by volunteers that takes you on a captivating journey through 2,000 years of British history, myth and legend.


But like I said I started this blog as a record to look back upon, to remember so many highlights and captivating memories. 

I entered the blog awards with the sole purpose of raising more awareness for our unbelievable, community project that is Kynren.

Little did I know that it would get this far.

So for me, winning would be nice, but it certainly isn’t everything, having the ability to head down to London in 4 weeks time, and share in a fantastic event and ceremony with so many amazing and inspirational writers and bloggers, covering so many topics and gaining so much insight, is what I’m most looking forward too.

With the added bonus of becoming an ‘Kynren Ambassador’ for the evening and raising the awareness and exposure of not just Kynren but the town our project lives and performs in, that is Bishop Auckland.

Anything above that is just a huge bonus.

For more information or to book your tickets for one of Kynren’s 17 shows this Summer, please visit the Eleven Arches website: http://www.elevenarches.org/

Or to learn more about the awards ceremony please visit the UK Blog Awards website: http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk 



Sometimes the hardest pieces of writing or blogging are the articles that matter the most to you.

To say I was delighted to find out on 2nd January that my blog was shortlisted for an award was an understatement, a complete surprise, a shock even.

When the UK Blogging Awards contacted me to write an article for their website of course I was delighted to be asked, who wouldn’t be? I feel as though it is a real honour for having the opportunity.

I wanted to base my article around the topic of my blog and hometown because essentially that is what my blog is about; ‘Kynren – An Epic Tale of England’, performed in my hometown of Bishop Auckland – one, or perhaps both, are a complete unknown for some.

After all that was the main reason for submitting my blog for nomination before the closing date of entry, I wanted the opportunity to highlight and hopefully gain further exposure of the Kynren project and showcase my town of Bishop Auckland too.

Bishop Auckland is currently a developing town, and it is going through a wave of transition with the arrival last summer of the debut season of Kynren, the first of many new developments being added to the regeneration.

Alongside Kynren, produced by Eleven Arches, its sister charity, Auckland Castle Trust, is also overseeing a major development of works in the town such as;

* Auckland Castle, which is undergoing a major renovation and restoration process. (Opening May 2018)

* The recent start of construction of a brand new Welcome Building, which incorporates a 15 metre high viewing tower that will give unsurpassed views across Auckland Park, Bishop Auckland town and the rural landscape beyond. (Opening early 2018)

These are just a couple of the programmed developments taking place, for more information on all of the planned developments please visit the Auckland Castle Trust website: http://www.aucklandcastle.org

‘For those that don’t know, what is ‘Kynren – An Epic Tale of England?’

It’s a 90-minute show made up of all volunteers, which takes each 8,000-strong audience on a visually stunning journey through 2,000 years of British history, myth and legend.

Crammed with special effects that bring the show’s scenes to life with thrilling visual impact, audiences will be transported from Roman times through to the Second World War, encountering Viking and Norman invasions, mediaeval feasts to the splendour of the Tudors, the Industrial Revolution and the Roaring Twenties along the way.

Launched by Eleven Arches in 2016, ‘Kynren – An Epic Tale of England’ is the UK’s only live action show.

The first season saw more than 100,000 people visit Bishop Auckland in County Durham to experience 2,000 years of British history, as seen through the eyes of the North East.

Season 2 starts from Saturday 1st July 2017 through the summer consisting of 17 performance dates. For more information please visit the Eleven Arches website: http://www.elevenarches.org

Eleven Arches is the vision of philanthropist and investment manager Jonathan Ruffer. Eleven Arches is one of two charities he has established in Bishop Auckland, the other is the Auckland Castle Trust.
Together, the aim of the charities is to establish Bishop Auckland as an international tourist destination, attracting visitors and investment, which will contribute to the fortune of the area and empower the community.

Lastly, I’d like to talk about the heading of this article ‘Communities.’

The Kynren project has created an opportunity for the town of Bishop Auckland and the volunteers have created a community; vibrant, supportive, caring and passionate, that will encourage future generations to come and become a part of the project and with it, help to create a new history for Bishop Auckland.

The blogging community in my short experience is no different; the UK Blogging Awards is the pinnacle event in the calendar, and one which attracts more and more submissions of entry year on year since it’s forming back in 2014, with over 2,400 blogs nominated this year.

This community offers help, support and guidance just like all communities do, keen to see others do well and better themselves and help this industry grow, and develop in which we are all now bonded too, with a common denominator that we are all here for the same reasons as we all enjoy what we do.

With Friday 21st April a mere 7 weeks away, a final note resides with each finalist, wishing you all the very best of luck during the awards ceremony in what should be a fantastic spectacle celebrating the very best of UK wide writers and bloggers.


Season 2


The build up to Season 2 is now well underway, since Friday, not only has a new promotional Kynren sign been installed at the entrance to the site, but each Archer has received emailed information on not only which team they will be participating in this Summer but rehearsal times and dates too.

Following on from my experience during Season 1, I knew the Show Team’s training schedules were quite intense, but now becoming a member of one of those teams, I can now fully appreciate just how intense it is.

Looking through my rehearsal schedule yesterday, at all the different roles, training days and the many hours that each person has to put in to be show ready, it did scare me if I’m honest.

The thoughts and realisation that this was going to be tough, and so it should be.

With the first show only just over 4 months away, the training does need to be intense, there is a lot to learn.

Am I capable?

They are the type of questions why we are all here, of course we are capable, I’m here to challenge myself, and the small bit of comfort I do have is, Season 1’s volunteers were exactly in this same position last Summer and each one pulled it off with magnificent effect.

This is a world class show, which each year is going to become bigger and better as it progresses.

And that isn’t just a comment from a volunteer either, with hope or ambition and looking ahead, I know, having been in the Experience Team during the debut season last year.

From that team’s vantage point, you have a role which is very interactive with the audience, you are their guides, their information point, that friendly smile, and welcoming arrival.

If you speak to any of these volunteers, they can tell you first hand on which locations each visitor has arrived from, UK wide to International shores, each one having many different stories to tell.

Kynren is already a World Class attraction, as Archers we need to be ready, we need to build on the successes that all involved in Season 1 provided.

And keep building for our future, for generations to come.

For me my training starts this Saturday, and Sunday, I told you it was intense.

I’m really looking forward to it, to learn from World Class trainers, developing new skills, new techniques, to learn more about my own capabilities and then to learn from the people who make Kynren all it is, the Archers.

I look forward to updating you more as the weeks progress, writing from a different angle of the project.

As for Season 2, I am Show Team 5.

For more information about Kynren  or to book your tickets please visit Eleven Arches website: http://www.elevenarches.org/

Camp Kynren


And so it starts all over again.

On Monday 13th February I attended the first volunteer group training session aptly named ‘Camp Kynren’ which will be run across the next couple of weeks in which all 1500 volunteers will attend.


At this stage I’m not about to go into any real details and spoil it for the remaining volunteers who have yet to go, but what I will say it’s very informative and lots of fun.

I’ve mentioned many times before how special and how warm a feeling you have when you arrive back to the Kynren site, it just has this magic about itself that you can’t help but feel excited and smile both inwardly and outwardly.

Add that feeling with coming together with a large group of volunteers, some of which you know, some that incredibly you’re only meeting for the first time, and then making introductions with the brand new Archers that are keen and excited to join you on this incredible journey into Kynren, Season 2.

Season 2 has been a long time coming for many an Archer, most haven’t been back to the site since the tree planting day at the end last year, whilst some may not have even had an opportunity since the final show back in September.

It was a rollacoaster of a ride of a Summer, I definitely have the bug, and one I was keen to continue on.

This year as I mentioned in previous blogs I have moved from the Experience Team which has given me so much grounding and a great overall view of the Kynren project, where I worked alongside so many fantastic people and also had the amazing opportunity to meet, greet and speak to so many visitors to our shows.

It has been an amazing experience just to learn how Kynren has been received both from pre and post shows, it will long live as a special moment, one that I will relive through these blogs as a lasting memory.

So Good Luck to all the Experience Team heading into Season 2, each of you are a credit to each other and the project.

I will be very jealous of not being able to wear the famous red jacket but each time I see it will spark hundreds of memories, smiles and laughter in the process.

So, to the show team…

After Monday night I did have to question my sanity, after a brief exercise of co-ordination skills and movement I finally understood what all of my friends had been telling me for years.

I don’t have any 😄

Much work ahead for me, but one I’m looking forward too.

The performing, the standing ovations, they will be outstanding in their own right but it’s not everything that I’m looking forward too.

I’m looking forward to challenging myself, taking myself out of a slight personal comfort zone, adapting myself, learning new skills, and learning from the best, our choreographers and our first season Archers.

And one thing for certain is I’ll work myself hard, not just because that’s my way, because I now have a moral responsibility not just to myself but to all my fellow teammates right across the full project and to the paying visitors that come far and wide across every corner of the globe.

Throughout my blogs, the common denominator is the people, I’m proud of them all.

Without any of them we wouldn’t be where we are today, look back on what we all achieved, look onwards another 12 months and dare to dream, but in our cases live out the reality.

Kynren Season 2, is going to be Epic, we’d love you to be a part of it, there are 17 shows this year starting on Saturday 1st July running until Saturday 16th September.

For further information or to book your tickets please head over the Eleven Arches website here: http://www.elevenarches.org




UK Blog Awards 2017


A few weeks ago I came across the UK Blog Awards and wondered if I should enter my ‘Kynren Blog’ fortunately for me I was just in time to submit my entry as the closing date was almost up.

As many of my readers know I started writing this blog as a record of the individual progress and journey I was making throughout the Kynren project.

I wondered once I started if I could keep up the interest to keep writing and keep updating various events.

What did happen was it awakened something deep in my soul, that writing especially when you find a passion for the subject matter, is the easiest thing in the world.

From how it first started to how it is developing today could not be foreseen.

From starting the journey, I have had the honour of writing a guest article for ‘The Official Tourism Site for Durham – This is Durham’ describing what it is like to volunteer on the Kynren project.

Its been very humbling to know that my blog has been read far and wide, not just from fellow volunteers but internationally too.

Since starting in March, this blog has had over 2,500 thousand visitors to the blog page, stretching from locations such as; United States, Canada, Australia, Mexico, China, and most of Europe to name just a few.

Kynren is a developing project, now an award winning project, it’s something that we all hold close to our hearts, it’s a project we all are very proud of, we want to help to nurture it, develop it, make it stronger.

I entered this blog for two reasons, one to learn and test myself with a wider audience, to showcase my work not for acceptance, just to keep developing.

The second, but most important reason was to showcase our project.


After such a fantastic debut season, being part of something amazingly special, a project that has united a community once again, that has shown us all that if you believe in something and your willing to put your time in, to come together as once a thousand strangers to now a thousand new friends, to volunteer and give back, anything like Kynren is possible.

As Kynren is growing, so are the volunteers who are taking part, we test ourselves, we become more experienced, we become more rounded.

We are developing our life skills, our people skills and we are all embracing life and all the possibilities that come with it.

Kynren deserves to be successful and it will be, year after year, because of the sheer determination, passion, care and self development of the people who take part.

“The Archers”

As a closing statement I’m not going to beg for votes because that’s not what is important, if you like my blog great, the link is at the bottom of this page, and I am truly humbled that you have taken your time to read my entries and vote for Kynren.

What I would like to happen is through this blog, it is shared to a bigger and wider audience and communities to give that opportunity to someone you know the chance to find out more.

Kynren performed 15 shows this Summer during its debut first season.

It returns in July for 17 shows for Season 2, come and witness our spectacular show with your own eyes.

To learn more about Kynren, please visit Eleven Arches website: http://www.elevenarches.org/

To register your vote for the Kynren Blog please click on this attached link: http://blogawardsuk.co.uk/ukba2017/entries/eleven-arches-kynren-my-experience 

It will ask you for your name, email address and which category to vote for, please vote only for the first choice “Arts and Culture & Events and Weddings” this way your vote will be registered against both categories.

Thank you all for reading and your continued support.


Why did you volunteer?


With Kynren’s Mix and Match recruitment sessions in full swing in preparation for new volunteers for Season 2, I thought it could be a good opportunity to look back on 12 months and talk again about the reasons why 1000 strangers all came together to make Kynren the success story of 2016.

Now an award winning show having just won ‘Performance of the Year at the Living North Magazine Awards 2016.

Just the first of many acknowledgements that lies ahead for the project, and the efforts of every single person who has played their part is richly deserved.

Over the last couple of weeks it’s been like da ja vu for me, more mix and match sessions that I’m not involved in, and it really says something when reading and hearing how this new band of volunteers have enjoyed the sessions as much as the first year’s did.

What did I actually miss out on?!!!

Thinking back to 12 months ago I don’t need to go into details on why I volunteered, as I’ve already covered this in previous blog posts.

But what I will say is we as a collective group of people, once strangers, now lifelong friends, we achieved something special.

A straight forward concept of volunteering your time for a greater good that has had a massive impact on ourselves individually as well as creating more than hope, creating real true possibilities for our town of Bishop Auckland, and the generations of people who will live through it.

We are creating a positive future for the children growing up in our town to show them, that with hard work any dream is achievable.

You just have to believe and want it.

Jonathan Ruffer, Eleven Arches and every volunteer are part of a new history creating a legacy for our town for all to be proud of.

12 months ago I had attended an open day and I was onboard, I still remember it like yesterday, I remember telling friends and their response was “you’ve done what?”

It is without doubt one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made, this isn’t an over sell either.

Being a volunteer at Kynren isn’t about what you may get for volunteering, at least it’s not for me.

Remembering why I volunteered, it was first and foremost to give back to the town I live and support the project.

Kynren has far exceeded all of our expectations, no one knew quite what to expect but no one expected this.

I always said I’d give them a year, having completed this year, I would now like to think I’ll be associated to Kynren for the rest of my life.

It really does mean that much, it’s not just a project that I’m extremely proud and passionate about, but I’m also extremely proud and passionate on how it has changed and developed me as a person.

No other project could do that.

Fundamentally, Eleven Arches is a charity, a trust given back to the town of Bishop Auckland.

Kynren is a success story, a story created especially as it’s run by the enthusiasm of hundreds of volunteers.

And year on year it will grow, it will create new boundaries to push the development of its volunteers and wow the audiences alike.

Visitors will and have arrive(d) from every corner of the globe, just to experience it with their own eyes, and the Experience team will look to welcome each one individually as they have done through Kynren’s first season as that’s what they do to great effect.

You’ll have heard a statement “people make an occasion” and on this project you’ll find that this statement has never been truer.

The friendships and connections that you make really are the icing and the cherry on top of an already fabulous project, so what’s stopping you from joining us?

Current Archers can you remember why you volunteered?

To sign up and become part of the ‘Kynren Family’ click on this Eleven Arches link to sign up for a Mix and Match session, come and find out all about it for yourself.