Lyn Barton A SOCIETY representing Yorkshire is to establish an outpost in London to give expatriates a link to life back home.
Former West Yorkshire MP Gary Waller is behind the new branch of the Yorkshire Society which will be launched at a venue within a stone's throw of the Houses of Parliament next month.
But the move is in sharp contrast to Sheffield, which despite being the county's second biggest city has always declined to join.
At a reception hosted by Sheffield Lord Mayor Diane Leek yesterday civic leaders were urged to get on board.
Society chairman Keith Madeley said it was a mystery why Sheffield had never become part of it.
"When I took over as chairman in 2002 I was astonished to find there was no representation in Sheffield and no corporate members.
"Sheffield Council is the only major council not to be a member of the Yorkshire Society. Leeds, Bradford, York, Hull, Doncaster and Barnsley are all members, but not Sheffield.
"We really want Sheffield to join and be part of the society – this is the Yorkshire Society for the whole of Yorkshire, not the West Yorkshire Society or the North Yorkshire Society."
Mr Madeley said the reception in the town hall hosted by Coun Leek had proved there was a huge appetite in the city to join the society.
He said Sheffield Heeley Labour MP Meg Munn had been among the first people to sign on the dotted line and join the society while at the reception. Many others had followed suit, he said.
Mr Madeley added that the society was prepared to offer an important enticement: "We have promised that if Sheffield joins they will be able to host Yorkshire Day on August 1, 2005.
"The Yorkshire Society is a non-political, non-religious organisation and the message we want to give Sheffield is that we want them to come on board."
The reception was held to raise the profile of the society and gauge the level of interest. The city council will now be considering its position.
Coun Leek said: "Today was about bringing businesses and organisations from across South Yorkshire to hear about the Yorkshire Society, the work they do and events they hold, around Yorkshire.
"It was a very well attended event and I'm delighted at the positive response the society have received from individuals and organisations."
Meanwhile in London the former Brighouse and Spenborough and then Keighley MP, Mr Waller predicted the new branch of the Yorkshire Society in the capital would be a huge hit.
He said the aim was to cont-act as many Yorkshire people living in London as possible and bring them together for the launch on Monday, May 24.
"We think there is enormous potential for the Yorkshire Society in London.
"There are many tens of thousands of people with Yorkshire links who are based in London and we feel that large numbers of them still have a strong attachment to the county. By setting up the branch the Yorkshire Society will enable them to express that attachment and come together with others who feel the same way."
The Yorkshire Society was founded in 1980 to celebrate, promote and campaign on behalf of the historic county.
It provides sponsorship for charitable causes, erects Yorkshire Rose plaques to commemorate the birthplaces of famous Yorkshire men and women and makes annual Yorkshire history awards.
It is the main organisation behind the celebration of Yorkshire Day and promotes the specially written Yorkshire Anthem and the Yorkshire Flag.