My Yorkshire: Bob Appleyard

Bob Appleyard exploded on the cricket scene when he took 200 wickets in his first season for Yorkshire. After winning a battle against tuberculosis, he was a member of Len Hutton's team which retained the Ashes in Australia in 1954-5. At 83, he is still working tirelessly for cricket and cricket charities, was awarded the MBE last year and is President of Yorkshire CCC.

What is your first memory of being outdoors?

The first lasting impression is of grandma taking my sister and I by tram and Shanks' Pony to the Bluebell Woods at Oakenshaw; it would have been about 1928. As I live within a few hundred yards of Middleton Woods in Ilkley, I still feel the same thrill at the sight of massed bluebells and the wonderful shades created by the sunshine through the trees.

What is your favourite part of the county and why?

There are so many, but the answer must be the Dales. I was 15 when the war started and in the next few years, before I enrolled in the Royal Navy, I enjoyed the luxury of owning a racing bike, albeit one with fixed gears, so we could explore the Dales on a weekend and have the roads completely to ourselves. If I had a favourite route for a drive, it would be through Kilnsey, on to Arncliffe, over Malham Moor to the Tarn and the Cove. The limestone outcrops are spectacular and you have the opportunity of seeing skylarks and the Dales fauna.

What is your idea of a perfect day out in Yorkshire?

It happens every year on my birthday. Our friends Ron and Pam Deaton collect us and, knowing my love for the Dales, drive us in a leisurely fashion through the unspoiled countryside to Hawes for lunch. We go via Bolton Abbey, Burnsall, Grassington, Kilnsey, Buttertubs and Swaledale and return by way of Ribblehead viaduct, with its views of the Three Peaks, Settle and back to Ilkley.

Do you have a favourite view in Yorkshire?

I find the views from the road between Addingham and Bolton Abbey, looking towards Beamsley Beacon, quite uplifting. To stop off at Bolton Abbey for a while then drive on to Burnsall gives a true picture of the Dales, reviving memories of when we cycled those same roads and swam in the Wharfe.

Which Yorkshire sportsman/woman (past or present) would you like to take for lunch?

It would have to be a cricketer and there are so many heroes – most of whom I have met – including Wilfred Rhodes, George Hirst, Herbert Sutcliffe, Len Hutton, Maurice Leyland and Bill Bowes. But the one person I have always admired enormously (who I saw play for Yorkshire at Bradford Park Avenue when I was 14) was Hedley Verity, whose exploits for Yorkshire and England before he was killed serving his country as an officer with the Green Howards in Sicily were remarkable. Apart from being the best left-arm spinner in Yorkshire's history (sorry, Wilfred), everyone I have spoken to has said what a fine man he was. It would have been a wonderful experience to have had lunch with him.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take for lunch?

Brian Rix, who has done so much for the Mencap charity. I played cricket with Brian – and Leslie Crowther – in a Lord's Taverners' match and the changing room was a riot of laughter.

If you had to name your hidden gem, what would it be?

This might sound unusual, but it would have to be the Bradford Diocesean retreat Parceval Hall, at Skyreholme in Upper Wharfedale. With the rhododendrons and azalea in full bloom the garden is stunning.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

Yorkshire is unique in having fine industrial towns and buildings which depict the part it played in the Industrial Revolution, taking the names of cities like Sheffield and Bradford round the world.

Then there is the variety of the countryside and the coastline but above all there are the people, whose reputation is for openness, friendliness, not being afraid to stand up for what they think is right and courage. Did you know that Bradford alone has had six recipients of the Victoria Cross? I'm quite happy to say I'm a proud Bradfordian.

Apart from cricket, which other sports do you follow in the county?

Golf replaced cricket for me as a participation sport but my generation played cricket in summer, soccer or

rugby in the winter and consequently

we still follow those games in the media – I'll watch anything on TV that involves

a ball.

What are your interests in Yorkshire cultural life?

Music would be the most important – I have always enjoyed brass bands and felt proud that Black Dyke Mills Band from our area won many national competitions. I enjoy listening to good choral music, too. I have a record of Handel's Messiah, with the Huddersfield Choral Society and Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir Malcolm Sergeant, which I bring out every Christmas.

Do you have a favourite restaurant

or pub?

That depends on my mood and the company I am in. There is so much choice these days but I have recently enjoyed the Barnsley Chop at the Sailor in Addingham and I always like going to the Ring O'Bells at Thornton just outside Bradford.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

I used to go to Lishman's butchers in Ilkley two or three times a week but have not been as often since I began to eat more healthily, which means meals involving fish, white meat and three vegetables. I've lost a stone-and-a-half and feel much better for it.

How do you think Yorkshire has changed in the time you have known it?

At my time of life, the tendency is to

make comparisons and they do not always favour the present. I'd like to be able to go out and leave the door unlocked, to shake hands on a deal and know it would be honoured and for law and order to be more respected. While not the most important in the great scale of things, the Scarborough Cricket Festival was always the highlight of the season for Yorkshire cricket lovers. Sadly, while still an enjoyable event it is not quite the same.

Who is the Yorkshireman or woman you most admire?

I have always admired adventurers, so the two who come to mind would be Amy Johnson and Captain James Cook. To achieve what they did with the resources available to them must have required enormous skill, courage and organisational abilities. Had it not been for Captain Cook discovering Australia I would not have had the pleasure of touring there in 1954-5 and enjoying our 3-1 Ashes victory in their own backyard.