Why Yorkshire and farming are leading the way at award ceremonies - Julian Norton

Attending an awards ceremony can be more exciting than Christmas.

The Yorkshire Post Rural Awards are an old favourite. (YPN).

Dressing up smartly, chatting to old and new friends and enjoying lovely food and good wine is a real highlight.

One of the best I have been to, was the National Television Awards, several years ago. I chatted with members of Gogglebox, stood at the urinals next to David Jason and held Jonny Vegas’s pint whilst he lit another cigarette.

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But not all awards evenings are as heady as that. But after the horrors of Covid, there is a pent-up excitement: the atmosphere of these events this autumn promises to be as effervescent as the bottles of bubbly that the winners will no doubt be opening late into the night.

I dusted off my DJ for a biggie: The Royal Television Society Yorkshire awards, for which This Week on the Farm was nominated.

I have had only a peripheral role in this popular series, but Anne and I had kindly been invited along. Ben Frow, Channel 5 controller and honorary Yorkshire man, was also coming and I was keen to catch up.

Ben has done more for the Yorkshire tourist industry than pretty much anyone else, commissioning series like Our Yorkshire Farm, This Week on the Farm, the risky-but-super-successful remake of All Creatures Great and Small and, of course, The Yorkshire Vet.

I really hoped we’d be sitting with him, because a rumour was about that he was up for a special award! I could relax and enjoy the event, for there was no chance I’d have to go up on stage.

The last time I’d been to the RTS I had to receive a trophy and, in optimistic anticipation, I tried to limit the wine consumption. I did, but my few words of acceptance were slurred with emotion.

The night lived up to expectations. Ben was visibly moved by the recognition by the RTS for both his huge contribution to telly and especially to our county. For Ben, surely bigger honours await.

One week on and the hangovers had subsided. The DJ was out again. It was the Yorkshire Post Rural awards, an old favourite of Anne and me.

We’ve spent several pleasant evenings enjoying funny anecdotes and convivial company (we always seem to end up next to Harry Gration) as well as handing out the occasional award.

Tonight though, we were up for our own award. Thirsk Veterinary Centre, only six months into its new life, was on the list of finalists.

We’ve worked incredibly hard – especially Anne and Isabella who are the main protagonists at the new practice – and it’s fair to say our first half a year has exceeded what we had hoped, with almost 2,000 new clients already.

How the candidates for Rural Business and Professional Services would be ranked and assessed was anyone’s guess, but I gave my shoes an extra polish before we left, just in case. Naturally, I’d eyed up the competition in advance, which looked tough; a chainsaw business and a company that trains people in important rural skills such as crop spraying.

Our small team is built up of old and new friends and former colleagues. Cathy, our receptionist, and I started our careers in veterinary practice in Thirsk on the same day, more than 25 years ago.

We share some funny memories and have had many a night out, but we’d never been to an awards ceremony together. But there we all were, smartly dressed in evening dresses and bow ties rather than scrub suits or operating gowns and everyone was excited. The shortlist was announced, and then “and the winner is…”