KATIE BULMER-COOKE: Try Sunderland first for Christmas shopping

Katie Bulmer-Cooke at the Yorkshire Post Business Awards.
Katie Bulmer-Cooke at the Yorkshire Post Business Awards.
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This week I was asked to deliver the after dinner speech at the Yorkshire Post Business Awards in Leeds. Much like the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards, the evening celebrates all that is great about business in the area, from the sole traders to the large companies, and much like the Portfolio Awards, I was my usual nervous self!

The region had an awful lot to be proud of and it was a pleasure to be a part of the evening, which saw many Yorkshire-based businesses and those involved in them, pick up some extremely prestigious awards.

It always puts a big smile on my face seeing others be rewarded and recognised for their hard work and immense efforts.

The evening was hosted by Michael Portillo, and what a brilliant host he was.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, as I wouldn’t have politics in my top ten favourite topics, and previous ex-politicians I’ve seen speak haven’t exactly set my world on fire. But Michael was witty, funny, entertaining and extremely professional.

He had such great presence and lots of funny stories to tell about his time in politics.

He was so impressive, I couldn’t resist asking him for a selfie.

While we are on the topic of business, last week I was also asked to answer some questions on Made in Tyne and Wear News as part of a feature they were running regarding a recently published piece of research that revealed that the North East is the best place to start a business. I was asked if this surprised me, and to be honest, it doesn’t.

There are some obvious reasons why this is the case, such as lower property prices for example. But in addition, I do think there is a willingness in the North East to try something new and give a new business, offering new services or products, a try.

I also believe there are a significant amount of people who want to support local economy and see local businesses do well, and as a result will try their local area first before heading further afield.

This is imperative if local businesses are going to thrive, grow and expand. So with Christmas shopping well under way, this really is the best time of year to try Sunderland first!

Although the illuminations are now all done for another year (and weren’t they brilliant!) there are still lots of cool things happening in the city as 2016 draws to a close. Looking to the week ahead, I’m really excited to see the Christmas lights as they are officially turned on on Thursday evening. I will be well and truly in the Christmas spirit by then, and despite many people resisting, I think it may well be time to start dropping the odd Christmas song into the playlist in my pop-up shop.