What’s your first memory of being outdoors? Being in the woods near our family home in Halifax and jumping in the huge piles of autumn leaves that seemed to swallow up me and my younger brother. Also playing in the paddling pool in the garden on long, hot summer days that seemed to go on forever. My husband and I purchased my old family home a few years ago and it’s amazing to have my four year old son growing up in the same house that I did when I was his age.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why? Yorkshire really does have everything and I think there are special places for every mood. My heart though will always be in Calderdale, which, in my opinion, includes some of the best scenery and architecture in the world. We have the Piece Hall, the 900-year-old Minster, the Charles Barry designed Town Hall, Dean Clough Mills, Shibden Hall, Eureka – and that’s just Halifax.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire? A weekend at the Devonshire Arms Hotel. My husband and I were bought a night there as a gift last year and it was such a special treat.
Do you have a favourite walk, or view? I love being in the middle of Savile Park in Halifax, with Wainhouse Tower on one side and Beacon Hill on the other. Or walking round Marine Drive in Scarborough – on a nice day!
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take to lunch? I am a big fan of Barrie Rutter and his work at Northern Broadsides Theatre Company. I was so glad when I heard he had been awarded the OBE recently for his services to the theatre. And his stories are legendary.
If you had to name your Yorkshire hidden gem, what would it be? Our local gem has always been the Piece Hall, which is currently undergoing an incredibly exciting regeneration to turn it into a world class cultural destination. It is due to re-open later this year following an investment of almost £20m. It is really going to put Halifax on the map, both nationally and internationally.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? Its enormous diversity. Within one county, we have everything. From the romance of the moors to the bustling cities, Yorkshire has been the backdrop to some of the world’s greatest literature. We have buildings of national and international significance, the fabulous old mills that are now thriving again as creative environments rather than standing derelict. But it has to be the people that sum up the identity of Yorkshire, honest, tough, resilient, friendly and proud.
How do you immerse yourself in Yorkshire’s cultural life? I really enjoy Northern Broadsides’ productions and always try and catch their shows at the Viaduct Theatre at Dean Clough. I also enjoy listening to the Black Dyke Band. Harveys sponsor one of their concerts every year and I love taking people who have never seen a brass band before. When I was first invited to see them, I thought ‘this is not going to be for me’ and I immediately became a convert. It’s great seeing people’s perceptions change almost instantly. I also enjoy the events that The Doghouse put on, a local organisation promoting live music in Halifax.
Do you find yourself ‘selling’ Yorkshire to non-believers and If so, how? Just invite them for a visit – it sells itself.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? Having a little one, nights out are not as common as they used to be but when we’re lucky enough to go out, our first choice is always Gimbals Restaurant in Sowerby Bridge –wonderful food in a cosy, eclectic and relaxing environment. For drinks, it’s another hidden gem, the Big Six pub at Savile Park, where you can enjoy a selection of real ales and guaranteed good company.
Do you have a favourite food shop? Most shops that sell food I’m a fan of – unfortunately!
Who is the Yorkshire man or woman you most admire? My dad, Roger. He was only 21 years old when his father died and he had to jump into the helm at Harveys, along with his mother Dorothy. They continued to build the business together until her death in 1996. I took over as managing director in 2004, Dad has had an incredible influence on me. Of course, there’s always a fantastic woman behind any man like that and that’s my amazing mum, Sue.
How has living in Yorkshire influenced your work? For me, it’s about the people. Providing a service to friendly, caring and genuine people.
If a stranger to Yorkshire had time to visit only one place, where would you send them? They’d have to visit Halifax of course but then I’d take them on the Keighley Worth Valley railway from Oxenhope to Keighley, stopping off at Haworth on the way.
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer? My favourite book is Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.