• This is an archived story. The poll is now closed.
Some of you were less than happy that in our run down of sporting icons, there was no representative from Rugby League. Surely, one of you wrote, we could have found a place for the likes of Albert Goldthorpe of Hunslet, Jonty Parkin of Wakefield or Huddersfield’s Harold Wagstaff.
The rest of the selection was less contentious, although one reader did make an impassioned plea for the inclusion of Nidderdale born cricketer Herbert Sutcliffe whose batting average remains the highest scored by any English player.
Another wondered why Scarborough’s Sir George Cayley had been omitted. The prolific engineer, from Brompton by Sawdon, near Scarborough, is often referred to as the Father of Aviation and was a true pioneer.
As we said at the start we really were spoilt for choice, but despite those omissions, thousands of you registered your vote. We now have our final five and it’s back to you to decide who will be crowned the greatest of them all.
Creative: John Barry
Born in York in 1933 John Barry Prendergast was just three-years-old when his father, who had eight theatres in the north of England, first took him to the cinema. It was to be the start of a lifelong love affair with film. First training as a classical pianist in the late 1950s he turned his attention to jazz and teamed up with the singer Adam Faith.
Work on TV and commercials followed, but in 1960 the big screen beckoned. Beat Girl was Barry’s first foray into the movies, and when it caught the attention of those working on Dr No, the very first James Bond film, Barry’s place in film and music history was assured.
Following his arrangement of the still unforgettable theme tune, Barry composed scores for 11 007 films from Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice to Diamonds Are Forever and The Living Daylights.
For some that would have been enough, but Barry didn’t work exclusively for Her Majesty’s Secret Service, leaving his musical fingerprint on Born Free, Out of Africa, Midnight Cowboy, Dances with Wolves and Lion in Winter.
When he died earlier this year, he had won five Oscars, several Grammies, had been awarded the OBE and been made an Honorary Freeman of the City of York.
When it came to catching the mood of a film, John Barry was a man with a definite Midas touch.
• Runners up: Alan Bennett, JB Priestley.
Thinker: Adam Sedgwick
The vicar’s son from Dent was a man who was truly ahead of his time. Born in 1785 and educated at Sedbergh School before securing a place at Cambridge University, Sedgwick was one of the founders of modern geology whose work inspired countless generations of thinkers, not least Charles Darwin. A charismatic lecturer, Sedgwick once told his pupils, “I can’t promise to teach you all geology, I can only fire your imagination.” He kept his word. His passion for the natural world was first ignited as a child when he collected fossils in Yorkshire’s limestone country and he went onto identify major geological periods, including the Cambrian and the Devonian.
During the 19th-century a chasm developed between religion and science as debate raged over the theory of evolution and Sedgwick, who as well as being a scientist was also a man of great faith, wasn’t afraid to put his head above the parapet.
In 1844 at that year’s British Association for the Advancement of Science in York, Sedgwick emerged as something of a celebrity when he defended the findings of geology against an attack by the Dean of York who described it as unscriptual.
Sedgwick may never have fully embraced Darwin’s theory of evolution, but without his endeavours the science world would have been a much poorer place.
• Runners Up: Joseph Priestley, John Harrison.
Sporting Icon: Wilfred Rhodes
Where to start with cricketer Wilfred’s Rhodes sporting achievements? He was not only the first Englishman to complete the double, scoring 1,000 runs and taking 100 wickets in Test Matches, but he still holds the world record for the most appearances made in first class cricket and just to round things off in 1930, when he took to the crease at the age of 52 he became the oldest player to appear in a Test Match.
Born in Kirkheaton, near Huddersfield in 1877, while he was originally picked as a bowler he went onto become one of the greatest all rounders of all time, gradually working his way through the order from number 11 to opener. During his time at Yorkshire, he scored more than 30,000 runs, averaging 30 an innings, took 3,608 wickets and in 16 seasons he not only took 100 wickets, but also scored 1,000 runs. His performance for England was just as impressive, amassing 2,000 runs and taking 127 wickets.
Behind the statistics are also some truly great performances. When he was 49, Rhodes was called to the England XI and was instrumental in defeating the Australians who had long reigned supreme. In later life, he lost his eyesight, but as Neville Cardus once wrote by then, “whether he knew it or not ,[he was] himself a permanent part of the game’s history and traditions.”
• Runners Up: Geoffrey Boycott, Herbert Chapman.
Trailblazer: Joseph Rowntree
The son of a Quaker grocer, Joseph Rowntree proved that business success and philanthropic endeavour weren’t mutually exclusive. Born in York in 1834, Joseph turned the family confectionary business into a global name and one of the most important companies in Britain. He could have retired early, a very rich man, but instead he spent much of his working life helping others and gave the country much more than Fruit Pastilles.
His philanthropic streak could well be traced back to a visit to Ireland as teenager where he saw a people whose lives had been ravaged by the potato famine and as the family company grew he became determined to do the best by his 3,000 employees.
While the work was hard, thanks to Rowntree, they had access to a library, free medical and dental treatment and those under 17 were also given free education.
Concerned with rising poverty levels he not only carried out various influential studies, but in 1901 he bought 123 acres of land in New Earswick to build houses for low income families.
Nestle eventually took over the chocolate factory, but the Joseph Rowntree Social Services Trust and Charitable Trust continue to build on his legacy.
Campaigner: Sue Ryder
When Sue Ryder opened her first care home in 1952 it was the culmination of many decades of work for those less fortunate than her. Born in Leeds in 1924 and educated at Benenden School, she was just 15-years-old when she doctored her birth certificate to volunteer with the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War.
When peace finally broke out in 1945, Baroness Ryder of Warsaw as she would later become, knew there was more work to be done. Whether it be organising relief convoys of food and medical aid to Poland following the collapse of the Iron Curtain, helping the homeless in France or giving refuge to the elderly and disabled in Britain, Baroness Ryder, who married war hero and fellow charity campaigner Leonard Cheshire, was a tireless campaigner.
Having been made a life peer in 1979, she made full use of her place in the House of Lords where she was regularly involved in debates about defence, drug abuse, housing, race relations and unemployment. When she died in 2000 at the age of 77, she had already left a lasting legacy. The charity named after her, now operates more than 80 homes across the world, 500 high street shops and 24,000 volunteers. However, there was only ever one Sue Ryder.
• Runners Up: William Wilberforce, Jane Tomlinson