Recall that Susie was featured on Look North for her movement work with folks who’ve had a stroke. In fact, we kicked off our chat by getting the day job information right. Susie is formally the Arts Coordinator, at the Healing Arts Department of North Cumbria University Hospital Trust in Carlisle.
Susie trained as a ballerina, but was badly injured and so she went into education and community work, spending four years with English National Ballet on a variety of projects. In the mid ’90s, she got interested in work in hospitals, focusing on art and health, and spent some time in the Middlesex Hospital in London, as well as at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. This work, by the late ’90s, properly kickstarted her career in the arts and music, plus dance, in health.
As you do, Susie experienced life in New Zealand for a couple of years, but found herself drawn back to England. Eventually she and husband Mickey did return to London but felt they needed something new. Mickey had come from Co Durham, and so the couple began to look at properties in the area, with a view to settling down in a new rural life. Although Mickey found employment quickly in Hexham, Susie was commuting on projects back and forth to London and it was all getting too much.
Happily for this patch, they found their dream house in Carrshield, around about 2011, and have lived there since, developing a variety of projects locally and regionally. Susie says that Carrshield is an ideal location for commuting sideways across the country from Carlisle to Newcastle, and when I spoke with her she’d just finished a week’s workshop at Newcastle’s Dance City Studios for children with autism.
I got to know Susie when she brought the Candoco dance company to Allendale Village Hall for a week, in a dance and movement project that integrated disabled and able-bodied children. But she’s also led a Children’s Dance Class at Catton Village Hall (Thursday afternoons 5-6:15pm in term time) since 2013. Susie says she is very proud of her protégés, who are growing up now, coming back sometimes to choreograph pieces, to work with the younger kids, going on to Dance City. Local folks may also remember Susie’s work on the Maypole Dance at Allendale Village Fair this past May.
Susie also runs one of the Pilates classes in the area (Catton Village Hall from 6:45 to 8pm on Thursday evenings); indeed, it was one of the class participants, Annie Bishop, who suggested early on that the diary feature this lovely artist. Annie mentioned that she finds the class very beneficial, the group very friendly, and that Susie thoughtfully accommodates individual needs and challenges. Probably the best way to contact Susie about any of her projects is through her own website: susietate.co.uk.
But the arts are not the most financially rewarding of occupations, and it helps to have just that bit of diversification in one’s revenue portfolio. So Susie and Mickey embarked on the area’s very first AirBnB, a venture she is fairly quite proud of launching. Along with their menagerie of chickens and dog, they have a happy and busy lifestyle, much of which, it sounds like, is spent helping others enjoy life too.