GENERATION AGELESS

Jonathan Blackie, 63, retired in 2011 as Director of Government Office North East, after almost a decade in the role. He’s now a Visiting Professor at Northumbria University and works part time for the North East Culture Partnership. In 2010 he was awarded a CBE for services to the North East in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
GENERATION AGELESS

 

I used to do this…

I represented the Government in the North East – and never did I have a dull moment. I started during the Foot and Mouth epidemic, was responsible for multi-million budgets, and managed an office
of about 350 staff.

GENERATION AGELESSNow life is about…

Helping my amazing wife Julie. She is co-owner of a successful online fashion business, Pink Boutique, with my daughter Alice. I was the first significant investor in PB and now it employs over 60 staff. Julie recently opened the Coach House hotel in Otterburn, has had success as a crime writer (she was a number one best-seller on Amazon last year) and has written for television.

How I made a change…

After the closure of the Government regional office in 2011, Northumbria University gave me the chance to return to my academic roots by producing ‘Borderlands’, an investigation of the impact of Greater Scottish Autonomy on the North of England, in the run up to the Independence Referendum in 2014. I also helped co-produce a ‘Case for Culture’ in 2015 with Beamish museum, on behalf of
the Culture Partnership.

Family is all about…

Love and support. They followed me for thirty years – now it’s my time to help them.

 I’m lucky I can…

Play tennis and golf to keep fit. I stopped drinking alcohol about 10 years ago.

I’ve got time for…

Julie, as I don’t disappear to London any more. The College in Durham is important to me. I spent time this year appointing a great new Principal after the sudden death of Joe Cassidy. I also spend time with Mark and the team at Alnwick Garden, which is a great cultural asset for Northumberland and the North of England.

Things are different because…

I’m more in control of events. I can spend more time planning and preparing. I am currently preparing a lecture ‘Northern Powerhouse: Culture and Communities’, for the annual Fulbright Scholars conference  at Northumbria in January.

Day in the life of me…

Working from home in the morning, meetings in Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle and Alnwick, followed by tennis or golf. Back home to prepare supper.

The people who are important…
GENERATION AGELESS

Julie and family. Alice is expecting in May next year – I’m looking forward to being a grandparent.

Work/life balance…

I’ve mastered the 30C wash and manage to get tea on the table most days. Keeping the central heating boiler fit and healthy is the next big domestic task.

I thrive on…

Having a purpose. I really enjoyed devising a culture manifesto for the twelve local authorities and how to create a framework for collaboration across the border with Scotland.

What mid life means to me…

Using my skills and experience to help my family and both Durham and Northumberland universities, having more of an appreciation about what I have, and cherishing the people I love.


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