Cross-border working between the Northumberland and Scottish fire and rescue services produced a day of international football fun for local youngsters.
Under-eight teams from Ashington, Bedlington and Ellington met their counterparts from Motherwell in North Lanarkshire for a day combining fire fighting and football.
In what is a rapidly growing youth diversionary project, Motherwell youngsters visited Pegswood Community Fire Station and met firefighters and community staff who explained their work and provided a tour of the facility.
This followed a similar visit to Motherwell last year for Ashington youngsters who visited Motherwell Community Fire Station and attended the Scottish Premier League match between Motherwell and Dundee United.
Ashington’s Hirst Welfare was the venue for an under-eight’s football festival before the youngsters watched the Ashington versus Morpeth Ebac Northern League first division match at Woodhorn Lane.
The project was initiated by Mick Hydes, community safety co-ordinator for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, North Lanarkshire.
He hails from Ashington, and although moving to Scotland in the mid-1990s he still maintains close links with his home town.
Gary Middleton, football development manager of the Hirst Welfare Centre, said: “The Hirst Welfare is pleased to promote and help the partnership work delivered between Motherwell FC, fire and rescue services and Ashington AFC community club.
“Already a growing link has been set up and we hope this continues.
“We hope all the young players enjoyed their day of football and the Motherwell youngsters had a great day.
“We now hope to build upon our contact with Northumberland Fire and Rescue on future projects”
Northumberland chief fire officer Alex Bennett said: “This event was clearly a great success and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service was proud to start the day off with a tour of our community fire station at Pegswood for its first group of young Scottish visitors.
“This gave the Motherwell under-eight’s an opportunity to meet with fire and rescue service personnel from over the border, learn about their equipment and training facilities and further develop their understanding of the positive work of the fire and rescue service in general.”
Counterpart John Miller, area manager for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, North Lanarkshire, added “We were again really happy to support this venture for what was the initial return visit of this developing youth diversionary initiative.
“Cross-border exchanges prove to be not only exciting for the youngsters involved but also extremely beneficial for staff of the fire and rescue services involved alongside our partnership agencies in order to support each other and share good working practices”
Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, added: “As a council we’re always keen to strengthen our ties with our neighbours and it was great for all the youngsters to be able to combine their football with a tour of our fire facilities.”