Review of the Year Take a look back over 2010

Flick through the last 12 months for a review of the Yorkshire Life year with Jo Haywood

Life as we know it

Flick through the last 12 months for a review of the Yorkshire Life year with Jo Haywood

JANUARY Our year got off to a speedy start in January with the help of Olympic medal-winner Seb Coe – or Lord Coe of Ranmore to give him his Sunday name – who went back to his Sheffield roots to unveil the new Hall of Champions at the city’s prestigious English Institute of Sport.Ably assisted by Yorkshire’s World Champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis, Coe told us: ‘I’ve always had a very strong connection with Yorkshire. It will always be my county. I love the landscape and the cities, and I support the cricket team.’We also made our way to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire at the beginning of the year to mark the start of the 500th anniversary of the town’s iconic packhorse bridge. ‘The celebrations might be about 500 years of history but we’re not stuck in the past,’ said Diana Monahan, secretary of the local history society. ‘January also saw us pledging our support to Pedal for Yorkshire, a charity set up to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Patron Raymond Blanc, who hosted a lunch for our readers at the end of the year, told us about his early career as a nurse on a leukaemia ward and his admiration for the work of Marie Curie staff. ‘I tried it for 18 months and couldn’t endure the heartbreak,’ he said. ‘I was not strong enough to deal with all the emotions.’

FEBRUARY February saw the Olympics crop up again, this time in the form of one of the world’s top sailors, Paul Goodison of Rotherham, who took gold at the 2008 games and has his eyes set firmly onthe prize again in 2012.Sailing is his passion but, he told us, it’s not all-consuming. When it came to a straight choice between Sheffield United’s promotion quest and training for an important sailing regatta in Holland, there was only ever going to be one winner.‘There was no way I was going to miss United’s play-off final,’ said the lifelong Blade. ‘So I towed my dinghy to Wembley, got on a ferry straight after the game and arrived at the venue in Holland at about midnight. It probably wasn’t the ideal preparation but I still won the regatta.’Over in West Yorkshire, Prince Edward was on hand (if not en pointe) to help Northern Ballet Theatre celebrate its milestone 40th anniversary with a fundraising gala at the Leeds Grand Theatre, where more than 1,400 guests raised �60,000 towards the company’s new academy at Quarry Hill.It was also a chance for David Nixon, Northern Ballet Theatre’s artistic director, to celebrate his OBE for services to dance. ‘This is the icing on the cake of a wonderful year for the company and for me personally,’ he said.

MARCH We caught up with Peter Murray, founder of Yorkshire Sculpture Park in March, to find out what keeps his creative juices flowing after 33 years in the job. ‘When you start something like this and bring people on board, you can’t just do it as a career move,’ he told us. ‘This is a lifetime’s work.‘An attraction that brings people to Yorkshire from all over the world has to be something special. It has helped to put Wakefield on the map and establish the county as an important centre for the arts. Being a part of that has been very difficult at times but it’s also been an absolute privilege.’Sticking with the arts, we popped over to Grassington to find out who was set to top the bill for the town’s 30th annual festival and found The Proclaimers, Paul Jones, Rick Wakeman and Ross Noble had all signed up.Speaking just before the fortnight-long event, director Amelia Vyvyan said: ‘We’re a festival from a small Dales town with a big artistic vision, and our 30th birthday celebrations will embrace – and hopefully enhance – that idea.’There were more celebrations afoot in Halifax in March when the town’s children’s museum, Eureka, turned 18 and received a �15 million birthday present to fund a major facelift, including a new shop and caf�, improved play areas and better links with the town centre.

APRIL We were one of the first in line to dish out the facts about Lady G’s, a new cookery school at Middleton Lodge near Richmond, in April when it launched its deliciously different pre-university and chalet host courses.Run by Lady Georgina Anderson (the Lady G in question) and her fellow cook Caroline Walley, the emphasis was firmly placed on fun.‘We’re not the Hairy Bikers or the Two Fat Ladies. And we’re certainly not the Hairy Ladies,’ said Caroline. ‘We’re more like the Two Ronnies.’On a more serious note, we turned the spotlight on York’s bid to join Rome, Jerusalem and St Petersburgh on the World Heritage List. There’s a general consensus that it would have walked its way on to the UNESCO list 20 years ago, but might struggle now as the deciding committee feels it already contains enough walled European cities with a cathedral. ‘It will raise awareness of the importance of the whole history of the environment of this city, and promote its safekeeping,’ said historian Alison Sinclair.

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MAY Anyone can have white or red with their meal, but what about green and black? We brewed up a healthy debate about the merits of pairing tea with food in May with the help of Alison Souter, manager of the Black Swan Tearoom in Helmsley which had just set up its own Tea Club.But after advising us to pair Lapsang Souchong with smoked salmon and Assam with chocolate, she made a terrible confession.‘My friends say I make the worst cup of tea ever,’ she said, sheepishly. ‘They don’t understand how I can be so passionate about it and still make such a disgusting cuppa.’Talking of tea, poet and writer Simon Armitage talked to us about the many things that make his home town of Huddersfield special, including the pleasantly old fashioned buffet at the railway station.‘I think the station speaks of civic pride,’ he said. ‘It harks back to a time when Huddersfield was a very wealthy town and where the money has stayed it has stayed in the buildings.’It was a new building in Hull that caught our eye in May though. Hull History Centre – a ground-breaking �9.8 million project between Hull City Council and the University of Hull – threw open its doors for the first time, giving people the chance to rummage through its 28,000 boxes of memorabilia and its mind-boggling collection of books, volumes, document bundles, pamphlets, photographs, paintings and maps that could span the Humber Bridge four times.‘We want people to come in and make use of the facilities we have here now,’ said university archivist Judy Burg. ‘It’s vital for them to appreciate the depth of history right on their doorstep.’

JUNE The good people of Pontefract were preparing in June for a month-long celebration of their town’s medieval charter and the launch of their new market.The biggest date on their packed calendar of events was, perhaps inevitably, the Liquorice Festival, which attracts thousands of people every year. Pontefract has been connected with liquorice for at least 500 years, with the annual festival kicking off 15 years ago.Food also plays a large part in the life of the East Yorkshire village of Bubwith, as we discovered on a visit that just happened to coincide with lunch. Harrogate has the tea room market cornered, Leeds’ trendy restaurant scene is booming, Whitby seafish is superb and you’ll not better Bradford curries, but for sheer variety, Bubwith is hard to beat. ‘This is a place where tastebuds are treated with the greatest reverence,’ our writer noted, ‘where you can tuck into everything from a traditional Yorkshire pie to six types of olive, then wash it down with a world of fine wines, beers and coffees.’The foodie vibe continued when we brought together four of the county’s top chefs – James Mackenzie, Michael Hjort, Stephanie Moon and Andrew Pern – for a four-course interview. They all agreed that there was nowhere quite like Yorkshire when it came to food.‘When you compare Yorkshire to the other counties we win hands down,’ said Stephanie. ‘It really is God’s own country.’

JULY Oscar-winning actress and writer Emma Thompson cast a spell on the children of Hull in July when she attended Hull University’s first annual children’s writing showcase.She talked to them about the importance of writing – even if you sit down at your desk without a single idea in your head – and of the pleasure to be found in striving for excellence. She also spoke at length about her latest film, Nanny McPhee & The Big Bang, and her love-hate relationship with her fellow cast members.‘The children in both films have been fantastic and most of the animals were adorable, but I really hated that donkey,’ she said, referring to an animal called on to do a jig in the first Nanny McPhee film. ‘It was not a good actor and it moulted everywhere. If I’m honest, it was a real donkey diva and I wanted to hurt it – badly.’Emma was in good company when she visited the county as the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were also in Yorkshire in July to open Scarborough’s newly-restored, 6,500-seat open air theatre, which is claimed to be the biggest in Europe.The royal couple were given an exclusive tour of the �3.5 million refurbished theatre and a variety performance with a strong county flavour, courtesy of the Tony Peers Summer Show Spectacular, Stephen Joseph Theatre Outreach and youngsters from Hatton School of Performing Arts.

AUGUST In our August edition, we joined more than 56,000 spectators at Bramham Park, near Leeds, for the estate’s International Horse Trials – a flourishing four-day event that involved more than 300 horses and some of the world’s finest riders.Event director Nicholas Pritchard said 2010 was one of the best since the trials started in 1974, adding: ‘There were so many highlights for me that I’m not sure which to rank as my favourite. But it was fantastic to see a Yorkshire win in the Bramham Classic by Louise Whitaker on Dazzle II.’Our travels also took us to the formal garden of the Treasurer’s House, which sits in peaceful tranquillity in the shadow of York’s iconic Minster.National Trust gardener Jules Fern (a magnificent name for an horticulturalist if ever there was one) explained why she was keen to continue the original owner’s eco-friendly ethos.‘I am passionate about preserving this so there are no power, no pesticides and no invasive plants,’ she said. ‘I use a push mower and the hedges are trimmed with hand shears. We make as much as possible of our garden waste, and anything that can’t be recycled is taken to the local recycling centre – by bicycle.’

SEPTEMBER Most of the children who gathered at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield in September were not born when Jonathan Edwards set his triple jump world record. But that didn’t stop them mobbing the Olympic champion when he joined them at the indoor athletics track.He praised the South Yorkshire institute’s efforts to bring together elite sportspeople, like heptathlete Jessica Ennis, and youngsters just starting out, saying: ‘It becomes more real. Seeing outstanding achievement only on TV can seem very distant and unobtainable. ‘When you train in an environment like this it brings it that much closer – you see that the people who have done extraordinary things are just normal people like you.’There were more ordinary people doing extraordinary things in Harrogate in September when Yorkshire’s first community rock choir began belting out The Who’s Pinball Wizard and Cold Play’s Viva la Vida. With its no-audition, open-door policy, Rock Up And Sing! had already signed up 150 members and was operating a healthy waiting list. ‘The choir has such an energy and life about it which seem irresistible,’ said musical director Rhiannon Gayle, who believes choirs shouldn’t be stuffy, formal and elitist. ‘It is giving so many people joy and discovery in their lives. Who knows where it will take us – we may find ourselves singing in London at the Royal Albert Hall.’

OCTOBER One story really gave our readers paws for thought in October when we dug the dirt with dogged determination on a very unusual pub club. It turned out, however, that The Wheatley Arms Dog Owners’ Guzzling Society was a highly-esteemed organisation with 25 members whose rules were strictly enforced. The fact that the only rule was that members had to turn up for a pint (or six) every Thursday evening with their favourite four-legged friend in tow is by the by. ‘They just tell the wife the dog needs a walk and end up here,’ explained general manager Neil Bolton.On a more serious note, cricketing legend Imran Khan bowled into Bradford University to officiate at its degree ceremony in his capacity as long-term chancellor.He took time out of his busy schedule (he didn’t get to see a single ball of the Pakistan-Australia test at Headingley) to talk to us about his political party, which he believes can take power in 2012, and his ambitions for his sons, Sulaiman and Kasim.‘I don’t really care whether they play professional cricket,’ he said. ‘But I do believe that sports are good for character building and are an important part of growing up. The winning, the losing and the struggling are all part of the process.’And talking of struggling, TV property queen Sarah Beeny told us about the pitfalls and pratfalls she’d encountered during the renovation of her own East Yorkshire home.‘It begs the question: what do you do if you find a dinosaur in the woods,’ she said of the magnificent dilapidation of Rise Hall, one of the region’s most important buildings. ‘Kill it? No, you can’t do that. It’s a one-off.’

NOVEMBER It was a double whammy celebration for The Devonshire Arms at our annual Food & Drink Awards, which featured prominently in our November edition.It scooped Hotel of the Year and Restaurant of the Year in a prestigious list that also included Chef of the Year James Mackenzie of the Pipe & Glass; Dining Pub of the Year, the Black Swan at Oldstead; and Neighbourhood Restaurant of the Year, Le Langhe in York. ‘This is a night of celebration, when we appreciate the talent, innovation and enterprise that combine to make Yorkshire a food and hospitality destination,’ editor Esther Leach told the 250-strong gathering at Aspire in Leeds. Tee was also on the menu in November as we highlighted a Welcome to Yorkshire campaign to put the county firmly on the golfing map.Yorkshire is home to three Ryder Cup courses – Moortown, Ganton and Lindrick – and has a host of other championship grade courses, but has remained largely overlooked by the globe’s golfers. Thanks to the new tourism push, that now looks set to change. ‘Yorkshire is one of the best kept secrets in golf,’ said Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. ‘We are now working with our leading clubs to make the county a destination of choice for golfers the world over.’

DECEMBER Our food and wine consultant, Annie Stirk, really outdid herself in December to create a gorgeously groaning table of festive goodies from around the region.There was smoked fish from Whitby Seafish (our Local Producer of the Year), Christmas pudding from Harrogate Cake Company, pork pies from Voakes of Whixley and chocolates from Little Pretty Things in York.On an entirely different foodie front, Leeds’ sushi aficionado Simon Phillips shared his unusual ideas for the festive table, including turkey sushi rolls.‘People get so hung up on the idea of raw fish,’ he said. ‘This false preconception puts a lot of them off before they’ve even begun. But sushi is not just about raw fish. In fact, it doesn’t have to be about fish at all. You can use just about anything you like – Whitby crab, sausages, asparagus, anything. I’ve used Yorkshire pudding to great effect and have made delicious Christmas sushi rolls with turkey and cranberry. Nothing is off limits.’And in a final foodie flourish – we at Yorkshire Life are not known for our abstemiousness – our readers joined us for a sweet treat at Bettys’ elegant Harrogate tea room, where executive confectioner Claire Gallagher explained how bitter brown nuggets from the nether regions of Venezuela end up as lush, hand-crafted delicacies in Yorkshire.