Craig Squelch has lived in Ripon for 30 years. He oversees the running of events for Dine across a number of Yorkshire venues including The Mansion in Roundhay Park Leeds.
What’s your first Yorkshire memory? In 1985 I came to Ripon for my first job interview for a deputy manager position at The Ripon Spa Hotel. It was my first full-time position since leaving Blackpool College. I remember just falling in love with Ripon. It is the smallest city in the UK but in my eyes it is also the prettiest. I bought a house here and I have never left.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why? I’d have to say North Yorkshire. It has so much to offer with beautiful places such as Harrogate as well as the smaller villages like Northallerton and Thirsk. North Yorkshire is also full of beautiful countryside and visitor attractions that many people don’t even realise are here, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Forbidden Corner and The Yorkshire Dales to name a few.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire? Working in the hospitality industry, weekends off are few and far between. I am normally running events at some amazing properties across Yorkshire which is a pleasure. However when I do have time off I will visit Harrogate, York or Leeds for shopping followed by lunch. If I am watching the pennies I would explore the many free things to do like driving into the Yorkshire Dales for some amazing views, scenery and of course fresh air.
Which Yorkshire sportsman past or present would you like to take for lunch? It would have to be the Brownlee brothers. They are such an inspiration, not only to their sport but to the county and they are inspiring the region’s youngsters to take up sport which I think is really important.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star would you like to take for dinner? In my job I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing people including Her Majesty the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee tour. I also met Sean Bean a few times at Aston Hall Hotel, near Sheffield. He used to be a regular and was always so interesting and really great with the staff.
If you had to name your Yorkshire hidden gem, what would it be? I know I am biased but it would be the The Mansion in Roundhay Park. Dine restored the building in 2009 to its original Grade II listed splendour and it’s set amongst 700 acres of gorgeous lake, wood and parkland.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? Yorkshire doesn’t stand still. It is always changing. I think there is still a perception that we are still putting coins in our electric meters, when in fact Yorkshire is moving with the times and constantly evolving. I think visitors to the region are genuinely surprised to see how up and coming Yorkshire is when they visit. They always wish they’d visited sooner and for longer.
Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what? I don’t really follow sport apart from watching Wimbledon. However, I was recently invited to a Leeds Rhinos match and the atmosphere and hospitality was electric so I would definitely go again. And they won – which was a bonus.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? Yes The Drum and Monkey in Harrogate. They serve the most amazing seafood. Their scallops with fresh garlic and cheese served with wholemeal bread is a favourite of mine. I also love my local Italian restaurant Mario’s in Ripon because it is family-owned and all the food is locally sourced. The atmosphere is so relaxed.
Do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse? I think it has definitely changed for the better. The county is adapting to people’s differing needs. The Tour de France obviously helped in putting Yorkshire on the map and encouraged people to visit.
If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be? I wouldn’t change anything. There is so much to discover. Whether you are a visitor or a local you will continue to find new places in Yorkshire that you will love.
Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire? Actor Sir Ben Kingsley. He was born in Scarborough and is an incredible actor and character most famous for the film Gandhi.
Has Yorkshire influenced your work? Yes because my whole working life has been in Yorkshire. I came here for my first job and fell in love with the county. I also work across some magnificent buildings in Yorkshire including Sarah Beeny’s Rise Hall, The Mansion, Wentworth Woodhouse and many wonderful private houses.
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer? I am not sure which category she would fall under but it would be Hannah Hauxwell, a retired farmer who lived on her farm on the North Riding of Yorkshire/County Durham border. Following the death of her parents she lived on the dilapidated farm with no electricity or running water and with only £240 a year to live on. Since then she has appeared in several television documentaries and also does after dinner speeches.
If a stranger to Yorkshire had time to visit only one place, where would you send them? I would definitely recommend York. The city has so much to offer, it is full of history with so many museums, and walks around the city walls. You could spend a weekend there and still not get to see everything.
Favourite walk or view in Yorkshire? Fountains Abbey. It is only five or 10 minutes from where I live and the setting is beautiful no matter what the season. I never get bored of visiting and it has recently refurbished its visitor centre and cafe.