My North East: Ross Smith

February 1, 2016

Ross Smith was appointed director of policy at the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) in April 2012, having been the organisation’s head of policy and research since May 2007. He is responsible for NECC’s relationship with its 3000-plus members, as well as overseeing NECC’s policy and campaign work, local representation, events and public relations

I’ve lived in the North East for 19 years. I first came here to study at Newcastle University, and I expected I would move to London afterwards. But I ended up with a good job offer here and I married a local girl – now I can’t imagine ever leaving.

Newcastle has all the advantages of a big city, but I can be at the beach or in quiet countryside within minutes.

My favourite area of the North East is the west end of Newcastle. Some people might think that’s a strange choice, but I’ve lived there for ten years, I’m involved in the community through our local church, and it’s where our kids go to school. It’s home now, so I’m fiercely loyal to it.

I can do a ten-mile run from my house that takes me across the Town Moor, through Jesmond Dene, around Heaton Park and back through Exhibition Park. To be able to do that in a city feels pretty great.

There’s nothing better than a day at the cricket, and Durham CCC’s Emirates ICG combines the facilities of a Test venue with the stunning backdrop of Lumley Castle. If Ben Stokes is batting, it’s even better.

The visitor attraction the North East should be proudest of is the Angel of the North. It was controversial when it was first proposed and it would have been so much easier not to go ahead. Now it’s a landmark that is instantly recognisable and was the catalyst for a much more confident and ambitious view of the region.

The best view in the North East is driving along the A174 in Teesside. With the beauty of the Cleveland Hills on one side and the industrial might of Wilton on the other, it sums up the region perfectly.

It’s a cliché, but the people make the North East. Not just people from the region, but people from all over the world who discover it and make it home like I did.

Kielder Water is stunningly beautiful. It’s also the reason we don’t get hosepipe bans here, and a huge selling point for the North East!

If I could change anything in the North East, it would be for people to better understand the great people and businesses we have here and the great future the region can have. Lots of people hark back to a golden age, but they’re missing out on a lot of excitement now.

North East Chamber of Commerce