My town: Tony Wallis

COUN Tony Wallis, Mayor of Wakefiled loves his home town of Castleford.

What do you like best about your town? 

I have lived at Castleford all of my life. What is wonderful about the town is how friendly and helpful most people are. One of my earliest recollections is as a child losing my bearings on a short trip from the local fish and chip shop. The customers went out of their way to see that I reached home safely.

What would be your perfect day?

Being Mayor of Wakefield does mean every day seems to be a perfect day. I enjoy meeting people and there are plenty of opportunities as mayor. I even enjoy chairing the council meeting which can be stressful at times. After the year as mayor has ended, I think my perfect day would be a balance of time in the company of good people and reading or watching a film.

Do you have a favourite walk or view?

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Castleford may be known as an industrial town but it has many green places and is surrounded by countryside. The best view is from Queen’s Park where we can look down upon the town centre, the surrounding countryside and across the River Aire, especially on a clear day.

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

Hilda Burton was a champion of the town who successfully campaigned for a playground for the children of Glasshoughton. The memorial to her, Hilda’s View, is a plaque and seat on the high area beyond Xscape. Sit or stand there to get an excellent view over the town and towards the M62 and Pontefract.

Do you have a favourite pub or restaurant? 

Castleford, especially Glasshoughton, has a small but thriving Chinese population and this shows in the number of restaurants and takeaways. I like China City and the Flaming Dragon but my favourite restaurant is the Eastern Court on Colorado Way.

Do you have a favourite shop in the area?

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You would think I would pick a shop at Junction 32 or in the town centre with its fine market, but my favourite is one of the quaint businesses on Beancroft Road. Triffidz started as a florist but has expanded to sell interesting gifts as well as flowers.

What do you think makes Castleford special?

It’s the way that people are determined to make a change to their town. Even before Channel 4 came to the town, residents had formed groups to change the town for the better. People such as Rheta Davison at Cutsyke and John Nash of the Friends of Savile Park, both awarded an MBE.

What is your pet hate about the town?

To be honest, the opposite side of the coin to the camaraderie is the underlying feeling that the town is second or even third class. It deserves to be treated as good as any other. Its citizens are wonderful and honest.

If you were hosting a dinner party, which three other guests would you invite (from your town) and why?

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I enjoy talking to the composer Richard Stoker when I visit London. Richard keeps up to date with events of his home town and is keen to discuss them with me. I would add Henry Moore and Winnie McLoughlin is my third choice because she knows lots of local people and history.

What are your priorities?

Being mayor has widened my understanding of the district. My year ends soon and I look forward to putting that knowledge to good use for both the town and the district.

I take the view that no-one can be truly happy unless the world they live in is fair and happy too.

What would your ideal holiday be?

Oh, holiday, I look forward to that as being Mayor means it has been over a year since I last had one.

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I liked Florida and would like to return there but I prefer the quieter out of the way places rather than the theme parks. Sunshine, peacefulness, and interesting people to hold a conversation with.

What was the book/film/play/concert/CD you have most enjoyed recently?

Rod Stewart’s The Great American Songbook Volume V. Lots of songs from my youth sung by a star with a great voice.

Who or what makes you laugh?

I never tire of Laurel and Hardy films. They rushed out films so fast they had to be given improvised titles like Laughing Gravy but their talent still came across.

How would you sum yourself up in a single sentence?

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A healthy person who has lots of friends and feels like there is a lot to do for his community.

How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

Happy, optimistic and prefers to listen than talk.

What is your favourite charity?

I’ve chosen two for the Mayor’s Charity. The Soldiers Fund, because it benefits soldiers and soldiers’ families in need, and the hospital patients’ charity because we should all help those who through no fault of their own are worse off than us.