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Dr Amir on what it means to be from Yorkshire

Amir with his Community Hero Award at The Yorkshire Society Awards in 2023. Perrin Read
Amir with his Community Hero Award at The Yorkshire Society Awards in 2023. Perrin Read

To be honest, I thought long and hard before writing this piece. Being in the public eye as a television doctor, you learn to grow a thick skin and most comments made by random keyboard warriors from the safety of their own homes wash over me without much effect. But I have been dwelling on a number of online remarks recently and I feel it is right I write about it.

This article may invite further such comments, but I have decided I no longer care about the opinions of those who hide behind anonymous social media accounts. They to me, are the modern day cowards.

Not long ago, I won a Community Hero Award from The Yorkshire Society. If I am being truthful, I think there are far more deserving people for this award than myself and I said as much at the ceremony when I accepted the award and dedicated it to all the health and social care workers out there who go to work and do incredible things each and every day.

After I taking the award, I posted a picture of me holding the award online. Now, I am very lucky as I have an incredibly supportive online following and had an influx of wonderful congratulatory messages flood in. I liked and thanked as many of them as I could, but then after a few hours a series of insidious comments began to trickle in.

Great British Life: Dr Amir Khan appears in TV's GPs Behind Close Doors, Channel 5 and is a regular on Lorraine on ITV. Dr Amir Khan appears in TV's GPs Behind Close Doors, Channel 5 and is a regular on Lorraine on ITV.

I ignored them at first, but they were coming from multiple anonymous accounts, all with a similar theme. They seemed to imply that because of the colour of my skin and my religious background that I wasn’t a true Yorkshireman and as a result, not deserving of the award.

I went to bed that night, not really giving it much thought. But the next day more messages along the same vein followed. You learn very early on not to respond to negativity online, it gives the people behind such accounts huge satisfaction, so I ignored them, but it got me thinking: what does it mean to be a Yorkshireman or woman, for that matter.

Being born and bred in Bradford and now a resident of Leeds, I have been a staunchly proud Yorkshireman – I tweet about how beautiful Yorkshire is on a regular basis, I try to big up our county on the television or radio at every opportunity. I love Yorkshire, but more than that, I love being from Yorkshire. Yes my heritage is mixed Indian and Pakistani, but the only place I have ever lived is Yorkshire (excluding my medical school days in Liverpool – which I also love).

Traditionally the archetypal Yorkshireman or woman is a person with a laid back demeanour, a 'say it as it is' attitude, perhaps a hint of stubbornness and a sprinkling of good ol’ Yorkshire frugality.

And whilst that might be partly true, it is only a fraction of who we really are. You won't find a friendlier bunch on God’s green earth (I might be biased, but I don’t think I am). There is nothing quite like the hello of a stranger as you walk past them in the street and our friends and neighbours are as dear to us as our very own family.

I think it is fair to say we like a good old knees up down the pub, and if it is a Sunday, it has to come with a mandatory Sunday lunch (homemade Yorkshire puds only please).

Great British Life: Amir's latest book is about heritage, background and culture - from his Yorkshire perspective Amir's latest book is about heritage, background and culture - from his Yorkshire perspective

Come a vaguely warm weekend and we are down at Whitby or Scarborough in shorts or bikinis and if the weather heats up above fifteen degrees Celsius, that’s considered tropical. And finally, although we may venture out every now and again for work or studies, most of us return home to Yorkshire, because we know it is the best place to live (again, I may be biased).

On reflection, I have realised that being a Yorkshire man or woman has nothing to do with your skin colour or your heritage, it runs much deeper than that.

It is who you are as a person, it is a sense of belonging to a community steeped in history and one that has always been welcoming to others. SO, I won't let the naysayers get me down' I won't let them take away my identity. Being a Yorkshireman is who I am, and that will never change. Oh, and I only drink Yorkshire tea (obvs).



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