My Yorkshire: Chris Wade

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Chris Wade is Director of the Beverley Folk Festival. Last year, she won the Real Yorkshire Award, for services to tourism in the east of the county and for services to music in the region

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

Difficult to say, because I’d been on a lot of visits as a child, which never really made any great impressions on me. After university, I got a job at a fish farm near Driffield, and afterwards we went for a drink at a little pub called The Eagle, at Skerne. That sticks in my mind for two reasons. It was run by a delightful elderly couple who brought the beer out to us in great foaming jugs, and it was the first time that I had tasted Cameron’s Ales. The fish farming used to take us all over the country, looking after the stocks of coarse fish in all sorts of ponds and the lakes belonging to the great houses. I’m from Nottinghamshire originally, but I slowly and surely put down Yorkshire roots.

What’s your favourite part of the county – and why?

The North York Moors for the wildness of the place and its infinite variety – especially on a nice misty day, when you can lose yourself. It’s just wonderful to be able to get away from everything.

What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire?

A walk from and around the Lion Inn, at Blakey Ridge on the North York Moors. It’s a 16th-century coaching inn, remote and isolated. The countryside around it is a rambler’s paradise.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

I live in North Dalton, which is sort of between Driffield and Beverley, and there’s nothing nicer for me than getting up on a sunny morning, and going for my daily run, which I do without fail, whatever the weather. That circular run goes part some wonderful views, it’s on the edge of the Wolds, and it kick-starts my day properly.

Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?

You are going to have to stretch your imagination with this one, because I’m going to go for a sailor, Captain James Cook. Last year, I went to New Zealand, Tasmania and Australia to talk about music and to attend conferences. It was interesting to find out how the indigenous people thought of Captain Cook, whose appearance on their shores had a very adverse effect on their culture. It was a totally different take on things. We think of him as a hero, their view is a long way from that. So a discussion with him on that topic would be amazing.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner?

Dame Judi Dench. I’ve never met her (oh, how I’d like to!) but everyone who has, tells me what a lovely lady she is, as well as being a fine, fine actress.

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

Staithes, in North Yorkshire. I’m lucky enough to have a cottage up there, and it’s a wonderful community, not spoiled by touristy shops. I think that is largely due to road access. You can go down the twisty, steep hill to the harbour, but there’s nowhere to park, and you have to come back up again. There are a few visitors during “high season”, who want to peer through your windows, but it’s not that great a problem.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The friendliness of the people, the amazing countryside, the hidden valleys that you stumble onto by accident. Where else do you get that mix of the Wolds, the moors, the Dales and the sea?

Do you follow sport in the county?

No, except that in North Dalton we have quite a good cricket team, and they play on a pitch that could be described as “idyllic”.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

The Star at North Dalton. I live right next door to it. It went through a few hard times, closing and then re-opening, and it was once owned by a chain, and standards slipped. But now it is back in private hands again, it does excellent bar meals, the ales are kept and served well, and it’s a true privilege to be a neighbour!

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Not a shop, but Driffield Farmers’ Market, which is a blessing right here on the doorstep.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

William Wilberforce, a man pivotal in abolishing the slave trade, and thus a man who changed the world.

How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?

For the better. As I get to know the place more and more, I just love the county and the people more and more deeply. It’s not perfect – where is? – but it’s as near as any of us are likely to get.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

Absolutely. I also run a music agency, and I’ve dedicated my life to music and bringing it to people. The Beverley Folk Festival will be 28 years young this year, and I’ve been with it from the start. We’ve brought some of the biggest names to the East Riding and I’m very proud of that. When I first came to Yorkshire, Beverley and North Dalton were considered very “isolated”, you had to go to the big places if you wanted to have meetings with people, artists and agents. Now you do it all on the internet. I was organising part of this year’s festival on my BlackBerry while in Australia.

Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer.

I love the detective novels of Peter Robinson, who was originally from Leeds.

Beverley Folk Festival. June 17-19.

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