Cameron McLellan is the divisional managing director of Polypipe Residential Systems, one of Yorkshire’s biggest employers, based in Doncaster. Cameron lives in Tickhill, with wife Emma, and their two daughters, Charlotte and Isabelle. He shares his Yorkshire bests.
What’s your first Yorkshire memory?
Driving up from our half-timbered home in rural Worcestershire to start a new life in a large modern bungalow in Tickhill, South Yorkshire. I’d have been about seven years old, and to my eyes, the countryside was extremely flat compared to that I’d been used to. There was also all the adjustment of being at a new school, and trying to understand the local accent wasn’t easy at all, but it all slowly began to fit into place. From there, I went on to the local comprehensive and then to university and, I am very happy to say, I still call Tickhill my home.
What’s your favourite part of the county – and why?
Everyone knows the old saying that “home is where the heart is”, and for my family and me, that is completely true. I love Tickhill, and the many activities that such a relatively small community hosts and creates throughout the year – everything from carols around the Buttercross at Christmas, to our Scarecrow Festival, music festivals and a Cycle Grand Prix. Everything brings us together, and happily it is a little town with lots of independent shops and retailers – to the point where we are spoiled for choice.
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What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire?
We’d either get across to Doncaster on a family outing and get a train up to York – or go further afield, up to Whitby.
Do you have a favourite walk, or view?
Anywhere around Sandsend does it for me. The little village is lovely, then there’s the cliffs, the rock pools for the youngsters – we are a family who loves being by the sea.
Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?
Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill. A lady with style, and incredible talent, but with no “side” at all.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner?
Sir Michael Palin. Everyone knew him for being one of the Python team, but he has gone on to do so much more. He’s a brilliant broadcaster, with a unique talent for seeing things that perhaps others won’t (or don’t) notice His diaries are a fascinating read, very honest, completely open. I’d be happy to spend a good few hours with him, just teasing out all the anecdotes.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?
Cutler’s Hall, in Sheffield. It is a truly magnificent building. Then there’s the hall where the wood panelling and light fittings were all rescued from the interior of the liner Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic, a thought that sends a shiver down the spine. And all the superlative silver works on display. It’s being opened up as a venue for weddings and conferences and events, and that’s great, because so many more people should see this treasure in their midst.
Artist Helen Riddle: I’d take James Willstrop out for lunch and Dame Judi Dench for dinner
If you could choose somewhere, or some object, from or in Yorkshire to own for a day, what would it be?
An original David Hockney, and hopefully one from his Swimming Pool series. If not this then Castle Howard. I can assure you that we’d all take very great care of it!
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?
The people, who are very direct, and no-nonsense and who have a genuine warmth once you’ve got past that gritty exterior. I hate it when I go somewhere and someone trots out that insulting cliché of the county being “cloth caps and whippets”. It merely displays their ignorance.
Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?
I’ve been a West Bromwich Albion supporter since I was about three years old. Sorry. But I do follow the fortunes of both Doncaster and Rotherham.
Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?
We give five stars to the three Stars – the Star in the City, in York, the Star at Harome, near Castle Howard and the (relatively) new Star at the Harbour, in Whitby. Excellent food, lovely staff, and wonderful locations.
Do you have a favourite food shop?
Tickhill is crammed with them – who would have thought that this small place would boast two excellent fish shops, and a pair of fine butchers.
How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?
For the better, because, even with the massive upheaval in industry, and the growing global competitiveness, we have shown ourselves to be both resilient and innovative. We also have some inspirational leader
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If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be?
I hate to use that ‘‘politics’’ word, but so much more could be achieved if the so-called ‘‘leaders’’ stopped throwing their differences about, listened to people for a minute or so and worked together. Set all the parochialism aside, stop being confrontational – surely sense has to prevail?
Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?
Sir Michael Palin for his sound common sense, and anyone out there who says: “No, interesting, but why don’t we try it this way instead?” People who exhaust all the possibilities, and who come up with the solutions.
Has Yorkshire influenced your work?
I am passionate about making stuff, and being in Yorkshire, you couldn’t ask for a better heritage in that regard. Living here has made me realise that you innovate your way out of problems.
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer?
Jarvis Cocker who always seems to be re-inventing himself. Musician, performer, raconteur, one-off and original. My brother, the fashion photographer Alasdair McClellan, has worked with him (and done karaoke with him) and tells me what a great guy he is.
If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?
Doncaster Racecourse, for the St Leger meeting, so that they could see what a fantastic sporting event it is, and what it does for the town and the region. They’d certainly see a good few aspects of life that might make them smile a little.