Rebecca Taylor: My Yorkshire

REBECCA TAYLOR, 24, is the Prince’s Trust’s Young Achiever of the Year. Once a school dropout, she is now a successful businesswoman. She has a three-year-old son, Harry. Picture by Chris Lawton.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

Going to Roche Abbey in South Yorkshire with my family (I’m one of four children) on a wonderfully sunny day when I would have been about four or five years old, and being allowed by my mum and dad to paddle in the little stream. We also used to be taken to Conisborough Castle and we would let off steam by rolling down that steep grassy bank. I had a wonderful childhood, and I had a lot to be grateful for. It was only later that I dug my heels in, didn’t do well at school, and became a bit of a “wild child”.

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

I’ve got a very soft spot for Tickhill duck pond, and the walk behind it on the public footpath through the trees. My little boy, Harry, loves it as well, and the look on his face when he feeds the ducks is a picture of innocence and simple pleasures.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

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

A trip up to York with some friends, because it’s a beautiful city, quite quaint in some ways, but very modern in others. I love watching the River Ouse glide by. And I can’t wait for Harry to be of an age when he’ll appreciate the National Rail Museum… in fact, I’m going to check out when Thomas The Tank Engine will be there this year. He’ll love all of that.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

A stroll around Potteric Carr Nature Reserve near Doncaster. Or around Lakeside, nearer to town. I am fascinated by water, the light on it, and the movements within it. Anything to do with it. And I’m not an Aquarius, I’m a Capricorn. The former is all to do with water, the latter is about business, so I wonder where I got all mixed up?

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

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I am rubbish at sports, I don’t play anything, or belong to any team. I do like boxing, however, and I don’t mind watching a game of rugby. I heard the other day that that fine boxer Johnny Nelson has just taken up show-jumping, which is interesting, so I’d like to ask about his career in the ring, and why he’s turned his attention to something different.

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

Jeremy Clarkson. When we were kids, we were all told to sit down and shut up when Top Gear came on the TV, and my dad insisted that no-one dared to interrupt the great Mr C.

I like him because of his attitude – definitely no nonsense. Blunt to the point of bloody-mindedness, you could say. It would be an interesting encounter.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

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

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park, where they have an amazing selection of wonderful animals. It’s just off the Bawtry Road, and Harry loves it when I take him there. Lots of fresh air, lots of things to look at, and he can let out all that energy that little boys of his age have in abundance.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The people. There is a “stereotypical” Yorkshire person, and there are also professional Yorkshiremen, but we’re really nothing like that at all.

We are loyal, I think, hard-working (when there are jobs to be had, and it’s a great pity that jobs are hard to come by these days) and straightforward. What you see with a Yorkshireman is what you get. And when they get to know you, you won’t find a better friend for life.

Do you follow sport in the county?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I love going to the races. It’s not just for the dressing up, which can be fun, but because our family has a deep personal attachment to the Doncaster course – my grandfather’s ashes were scattered there. He was a jockey, called Alex Taylor, and he died five years ago. He was a very funny man, a lovely person, and much admired for his racing skills.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

There’s a new place just opened here in Doncaster called the Georgian Tea Rooms, and I’ve been in there a few times and enjoyed it. It’s a fine old building restored to former glories. And I love the Crown Hotel in Bawtry, which has just been given a make-over.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Eaton’s the butcher’s in Tickhill, which is just wonderful – great service and the best cuts of meat ever. And also the deli, Sciciluna’s, in Doncaster Market, which is run by the lovely Josie. That has everything you can imagine – and if she hasn’t got it tucked away, she’ll source it for you. Mouth-watering stuff. My friends and family and I do our own “Come Dine With Me” evenings, and I am always asking Josie for advice, and buying lovely things from her.

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

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Well, I think that a lot of the recent tourism initiatives have really put us on the map, and that we’re attracting people from all over the world and the UK as well to see the sights and sample the delights of the region, which is terrific. But on the jobs front, it’s pretty grim, isn’t it? I really do feel for a lot of my contemporaries and how life is treating them. One thing that I am hugely proud of is that I have, as a result of the Price’s Trust helping me with my business, been able to create some employment.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

The amazing Steve Greenfield, the business executive for the Prince’s Trust in Yorkshire and Humber. He gave me sound advice, and was instrumental in turning my entire life around. A few years ago I was made redundant, virtually penniless, pregnant and sleeping on my grandma’s sofa. And now today after going to the trust, and meeting with Steve, well, what a difference.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

Yes, completely. The trust had faith in me and gave me the confidence that I needed. Now my ambition is just to do better. To expand, and to open branch number two in Leeds. Onwards and upwards. Today, I’m a very positive person, looking to the future – not just for myself, of course, but for my son as well. I don’t want Harry to make the stupid mistakes that I made in my teens.

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

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He’s a (so far) little-known singer called Matthew Wright, from South Yorkshire. He trained at Guildhall in London, has just joined the Glyndebourne Opera and I think is destined for great things. He has a passion for everything he does, and he has an amazing voice. He started singing in his local church choir. He was at my house not so long ago, and sang for us, and the windows rattled! He’s also a very nice bloke, and we can natter for hours.

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

I’d take them to all the wonderful Yorkshire markets we could get to in one day... Leeds, Doncaster, Halifax, Sheffield, Barnsley, wherever – and that’s only in the “bottom half” of the county. These are the places where a visitor meets the real people, the life and soul of Yorkshire.