Meet some real-life heroes in my series of special interviews with people who represent the spirit and heart of the North East.
Duncan Wise works in Visitor Development for Northumberland National Park as the Tourism and Dark Skies Officer. His role is to help visitors have everything they need to have the best experience in the region.
In this interview, Duncan tells us about his work, his favourite North East slang, and more…
Duncan, please tell us a bit about you and your connection with the North East.I arrived with my young family (daughters Nessie, aged 3, and Frannie, aged 1) in Northumberland (for the first time in my life) in September 2000, to take up the role of Team Lead for Visitor Services at Northumberland National Park. I’ve been with the National Park ever since! Previously I worked at Exmoor National Park and on the Isle of Wight and in East Lancashire.
Tell us about your role at Northumberland National Park – what do you love most about the work you do?My role is to help visitors have the information, services, facilities and experiences they need to have an exceptional time in Northumberland and the North East region. What I love most is meeting people from all over the world who have travelled here, and more recently, introducing them to our wonderful dark skies and showing them the Milky Way.
Which three words best describe the North East to you?Wild (sense of), peaceful, friendly.
It’s often said that the people and landscapes of the North East are full of ‘spirit’ and ‘heart’. What do you love most about the region?Its resilience – both to the elements of nature, and to people invading its land (Reivers and Roman, as well as industrialisation). I love most its dark skies (the most pristine dark skies in England).
Totally agree! Is there one place you always like to visit that you would recommend to others?Yeavering Bell in The Cheviot Hills.
Favourite North-Eastern slang? Why?
‘Muckle’ meaning ‘large’.
The North East is packed with history, myths and legends, songs and folklore. Do you have a favourite story, myth, or song that you associate with the area?The story of the Duergar on Simonside. According to the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Cobham Brewer 1993), these are “Dwarfs who dwell in rocks and hills; noted for their strength, subtlety, magical powers, and skill in metallurgy. They are the personification of the subterranean powers of nature.”
Who are your North East heroes?Artist John Martin, and Hairy Biker Si King.
Finally, Duncan, we’d love to know what makes you smile?When a child sees Saturn for the first time through a telescope, it is a truly wonderful experience.
A lovely note to end on! Thank you so much for speaking to us today.
Special thanks to Kate Baguley, who helped co-ordinate this interview.