My Yorkshire: Kelly Steeples

Kelly Steeples was named the UK's most outstanding new teacher. Kelly, 25, is assistant headteacher at Southdale C of E Junior School at Ossett, near Wakefield.

What's your first Yorkshire memory?

I was born in Grimsby and moved to Doncaster when I was quite young, and I pretty soon started dancing, and got involved with the Riley School of Performing Arts. I must have been about eight or 10 when I was in a show called It's a Kind of Magic, at the Civic Theatre and I remember being the first girl dancer to be seen on the stage as the curtains opened. I went on with my dancing until I was in my late teens, went off to Leeds University, and there I decided that teaching was going to be my thing. But I still bring a lot of dance and movement into the classroom, which the children love. So I'm actually doing the two things that I enjoy the most. I think that the number I danced to, all those years ago was probably Rock Around the Clock.

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

I love Kettlewell, and Daniel (my fianc) and I have camped up there quite a few times. We met when I was in the classroom, and he came in on work experience, and he's still there. We are marrying next June, on the third of the month, and I hear that there's another big wedding just before ours. Daniel is very out-doorsy, and I've learned to love all of that. We particularly like Kettlewell when they have their Scarecrow Festival.

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

After a hectic week, I love going over to Harrogate, to the newly-restored Turkish Baths. When you go through the door, it has a total "Wow!" factor. They've done such a smashing job on it. Then we'd go for a picnic lunch in Bretton park and then sheer heaven for me would be to go to see a show at the Bradford Alhambra, especially if it involved dance. We went to see the Alvin Ailey Company there, and I was so impressed. Those dancers have bodies to kill for. I was deeply, deeply envious.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

Daniel and I love the countryside around Ingleborough Falls. Take us up there.

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

I am a huge fan of Strictly Come Dancing, so I'm going to go for Darren Gough, because I'd like him to whirl me around the dance floor a couple of times and then I'd like to settle down over lunch with him, and beg him to fill me in with all the celebrity gossip, no holds barred.

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

Sheffield's Sean Bean, because I'm a big fan and because Don't Say a Word is one of my favourite films. The fact that he is also ruggedly good-looking,has a naughty twinkle in his eye and is a bit of a lad has nothing to do with my choice.

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

There's a fantastic little pub called The Woodman Inn at Thunder Bridge, outside Huddersfield. It's the typical, beautiful little Yorkshire pub, which always makes you feel so welcome. It's completely hidden away, and you'd have to know about it to go there. They also do great chunky chips.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The people and then there's so much natural beauty – the Dales

are stunning. And let's not forget Yorkshire's greatest export – the puddings.

Do you follow sport in the county?

I was brought up on football, since my father John used to play for Grimsby Town, and then Torquay, and he and my uncle Mike (Gray) now manage Selby Town between them. The other day, someone played a DVD they'd found of Dad in his debut at Grimsby, against West Ham, and there he was – short shorts and moustache, at the age of 20. I did have a giggle, bless him. The family all keep me up to date with how Doncaster Rovers

have got on when I pop back home. I played myself, for Doncaster Girls, when I was about 10.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

The Capri, a great little family-run Italian on Horbury Bridge, in Wakefield. It's always welcoming and has lovely food.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Blacker Hall Farm Shop in Bretton, which has stacks of always-fresh fruit and vegetables and tons of wonderful fresh meat. It's unbeatable, and it knocks all the supermarkets into cocked hats. There's also the fact that you're supporting a local business, rather than a pretty faceless chain store.

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

Definitely for the better and it continues to improve as so many towns and cities get their centres developed. Look how Leeds has come on. I went on a course at Sheffield the other month, walked out of the station and I saw that wall of shining steel and the cascading water. It's sad to see so many shuttered shops in Wakefield and in Doncaster, but they are trying hard to alter that.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

I have two. The first is the late Jane Tomlinson, an amazing woman who tirelessly put others before herself, even when she was enduring a terrible illness. Her husband Mike and her family now carry her banner on. But I must mention Julie Day, one of my teachers at Park Primary School in Wheatley in Doncaster, back in the early 1990s. Julie was the reason that I went into teaching and I owe her so much.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

Totally. Most of all, it's the children that I teach here who influence me, every single day. We have the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on our doorstep and we try to take light and shape and form into the classroom, and the love of landscapes. My colleagues on the staff are also wonderful, and a great influence on everything I do.

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

Emily Bront's Wuthering Heights. I did it as a set book at A-level, which is enough to kill anyone's interest, but I went on loving it. Think of the impact it has had on so many lives, and the impact it will have in the future. It never dates, and it never goes out of print. A timeless love story from a woman in the middle of a tiny village in the outback of Yorkshire. Incredible.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?

Our school. Our children actually enjoy learning. They learn through laughter and having fun and having a good time. They enjoy it all and so do we – it's a reciprocal arrangement. I'd like to sit the stranger in the corner to see the enthusiasm that our children have, their zest for life and their thirst for knowledge. It's a great responsibility, teaching a child, but you offer them a door, and a key, and you want them to go through it, and thrive.

YP MAG 18/12/10