Washington - Down Your Way

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Congratulations to the community choir, based in Arts Centre Washington, who performed a great Christmas carol concert which was broadcast on Radio Newcastle.

Congratulations too to Paralympic swimmer Matthew Wylie, who was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

The Arts Centre has some exciting events this month. There is an excellent exhibition of paintings by a self taught artist Karen Hughes on display until January 28. Washington Theatre Group presents its own pantomime The Swan Princess. Join Prince Derek in his attempt to save Princess Odette from the evil goblin king and meet some weird and wonderful characters along the way. Performances are on January 13, 20 and 27 at 7.30pm; January 14, 21, 28, 2pm and 7.30pm. Tickets cost £5.

Washington Wetlands re opened its Close Encounters area just in time for Christmas. The area had been closed for most of the year for redevelopment. The result is an amazing transformation extending the walking distance and offering visitors a fantastic way of getting up close and personal to a wide range of birds including Eider, Black swan, Mandarin and Smew. New fully accessible pathways loop through the area where exotic plants have been planted.

Half term activity at the Wetland will be The North East Puddle Jumping Championships with Daisy Duck every day at 2pm from Saturday, February 18, to Sunday, February 26. Check the website for more details.

Food banks nationally saw a growth in demand over the Christmas period and Washington Food bank was no exception. It is always seeking donations of tinned and packaged foods, which can be made at collection points in Asda, Sainsbury’s, Wilko and the library all in The Galleries.

Tonight from 6pm to 7pm at The Life House, Grasmere Gardens, Columbia, a six-week course entitled Writing Through Grief, using grief journals and creative writing will be starting. The course is designed to help anyone aged 16 and over who is grieving the loss of a loved one. Telephone 0191 417 8043 to book a place.

A litter pick is planned for the Barmston area on January 20 between 9.30am and noon. Volunteers will be welcome, meet at the village centre. For information on this and other similar events, visit keep Washington tidy Facebook page.

Various Walking for Health opportunities are available in Washington this month. On a Tuesday between 9.30am and 10.30am there is an organised walk for people of all ages , meeting in Washington Village Hall car park. Also on a Tuesday, 9.30am and 10.30am, meeting at Miss Tina’s Coffee Shop, Barmston, there is a Mum’s on the Move walk designed for mothers with babies in pushchairs on a structured walk which incorporates strengthening and toning exercises. On Fridays between 9am and 10am and 9am and 11am there are two walks which meet at the Arts Centre. People interested in joining any of these walks should contact Laura Bartlett on 0191 561 4693 or email laura.bartlett@sunderland.gov.uk

Looking ahead to Valentine’s Day, February 14, The Holiday Inn is holding a special Valentine’s afternoon tea from 2pm to 5pm, which includes a traditional afternoon tea while listening to love songs sang by Natalie Dean. Tickets are £12.