We salute Yorkshire’s community heroes for 2014

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The Yorkshire Post salutes the people who have made a difference to communties during 2014 in the YP 260th Birthday Honours. There are 12 winners from a host of backgrounds - who have all helped benefit the region. Alex Wood reports.

Tourmakers: Who geared up for the Grand Depart

The Ripon Hornblower,  George Pickles,  is one of the recipients in the Yorkshire Post's 2014 Christmas Honours.

The Ripon Hornblower, George Pickles, is one of the recipients in the Yorkshire Post's 2014 Christmas Honours.

Their cheery smiles and green jackets were their trademark, a small army recruited to offer a warm welcome to millions of visitors to Yorkshire’s Grand Depart.

Almost 12,000 Tour Makers gave advice and directions as well as steering people across roads and crossings, helping make the event a spectacular success. One was Maxine Green, from Wakefield, who helped marshall the crowds on Skipton High Street on the Saturday. She said: “It was such an absolutely amazing day; I definitely felt we made a difference.”

Hannah Beck: Runs breakfast club for the needy

When Hannah Beck offered a homeless man called Joe a cup of coffee 15 years ago she didn’t realise it would be the start of a breakfast club feeding 25 people a day.

Tour Maker volunteers outside Halifax Town Hall.

Tour Maker volunteers outside Halifax Town Hall.

There are now 14 volunteers working on a rota at St Peter’s Church, Harrogate, serving a hot breakfast every day, except Sundays and Christmas Day. Hannah, who is also a lay reader and described by a reader as “uncomplaining, unstinting and undersung” said: “We still do it for Joe really - and all the other Joes. I do it because I enjoy it - there’s no sacrifice involved.”

Chris Haskins: Driving force for the Humber

HIS may not be a household name but it opens doors. Former Northern Foods chairman and now chairman of the Humber LEP Lord Haskins’ long history of connections with key people in Westminster, civil servants and ministers, has helped push forward projects, including the Siemens factory in Hull, Able’s marine energy park on the South bank and enterprise zones.

“Everyone in Westminster knows now what the Humber is trying to achieve,” said one admirer.

Chris Haskins with cattle on his farm  at Skidby, near Hull

Chris Haskins with cattle on his farm at Skidby, near Hull

“He is a real figurehead for the region.”

George Pickles: Ripon’s unstinting hornblower

Five nights a week without fail George Pickles dons buff coat, tricorn hat and white gloves before heading out into the night to honour an unbroken tradition which began in 886 with a visit by Alfred the Great to Ripon.

Even when buses and taxis have ground to a halt in thick snow, Mr Pickles, now 77, has walked the rest of the way to “set the watch”, sounding a horn at the four corners of the Obelisk, in a ceremony watched by thousands from all over the world.

Alexis Jay OBE led an independent investigation into child abuse in Rotherham

Alexis Jay OBE led an independent investigation into child abuse in Rotherham

He also raises large sums of money for charity and tours the north promoting the city by giving talks to groups.

His wife Lilian, 76, who nominated him for a birthday honour, was taken seriously ill over a year ago, and relies on his care and support. She wrote: “Throughout this long and difficult year he has not faltered in his duty as a hornblower and for a man of his age this can only be considered as outstanding and admirable. I, our family and friends are very proud of him.”

Mr Pickles said: “I’ve been the chief cook and bottle washer and my therapy has been going out on a night and talking to people from all over the world. I am not going to sit in my armchair and turn into a cabbage - it is a privilege to hold the office of Ripon City Hornblower and while I am able to do it, I will continue.”

The tradition began when Alfred visited as he headed north to drive out the Vikings and was so impressed by the city’s support he decided to grant them a charter - but then found he had nothing to leave but a horn.

Despite the nightly ceremony attracting international audiences and featuring on promotional literature, it is not well known in its home county.

Clerk to Ripon city council Ruth Terry said: “George can get a crowd of 100 or more some nights - it’s amazing. He tells a story with good humour and wit and he’s a great ambassador for Ripon. His commitment makes him stand out and he’s worthy of this recognition.”

Colin Graves: For bringing success to Yorkshire

Success for Yorkshire County Cricket Club, winning its first county cricket championship for 13 years, has been sweet for the multi-millionaire founder of the Costcutter supermarket chain, who joined the club over a decade ago and has since pumped in some £10m of his own money.

“The bottom line is that I’ve always been passionate about Yorkshire County Cricket Club,” he told The Yorkshire Post earlier this year. “When I got involved back in 2002, people were saying I should walk away from it, you name it. But I could never do that.”

Maguire family: Dignity and generosity of spirit

The murder of Ann Maguire, stabbed to death while teaching at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds in April, shocked the nation. Her family’s response was to set up an arts education fund in her memory to develop the potential in students and “to look for the good that can come out of this tragedy and focus on what was important to Ann.”

In the past eight months, the Ann Maguire Arts Education Fund, founded by Ann’s widower Don and daughters Kerry and Emma, has raised more than £46,000.

Families of river victims: Pressing home safety call

Accidental falls into the rivers of York, a buzzing university city known for its nightlife, have been an all-too-frequent in recent years. But the deaths of three young people early this year prompted widespread calls for action. As part of an awareness campaign, those left bereft spoke out in short films. Jackie Roberts, mother of 20-year-old Megan Roberts, Steve Pearson, father of 18-year-old soldier Tyler Pearson and Rachel Peatfield, girlfriend of 22-year-old student Ben Clarkson, told of their pain at their loss and urged revellers to take care.

Professor Alexis Jay: Bombshell report alerted world to abuse

Reverberations from her report into the scale of child sex abuse in Rotherham are likely to be felt for years to come. Its shocking findings exposed years of failure by police and social services and prompted several high-profile resignations. With a string of linked inquiries going on into the failure of the authorities and the National Crime Agency hunting outstanding offenders, the heightened scrutiny is sure to continue throughout 2015 and beyond.

Kevin Sinfield: Rhinos captain who led Leeds to victory

Led Leeds to their first Challenge Cup final victory in 15 years this summer – 10 years after he was first handed the captain’s armband, to become the youngest skipper in the club’s history. The man fans call Sir Kev is recognised as one of the greatest to play for the Headingley club, having led his team to 20 major finals - including a record-breaking six Grand Finals since 2004. Only the fourth Englishman to ever win the Golden Boot, he was appointed MBE earlier this year.

Stacey Crowther: Bags of presents for the lonely

Stacey heard about her award as she helped wrap the last of 1,000 presents, which are being handed out this week at care homes and dementia units across Yorkshire. The managing director of The Little Group said: “Spending ten minutes with someone, sitting down, and talking, watching them open their gifts, it lifts them massively.” This year is the second she is organising a hand-out to people who would otherwise receive no presents at Christmas.

Gary Verity: ‘Mr Grand Depart’

The announcement that world class cycling will return to Leeds and take in the Yorkshire coast next summer in the debut Tour de Yorkshire cycle race is the icing on the cake after a golden year for Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire and the mastermind behind the Grand Depart bid. To top it off there’s even suggestions his character may end up on the silver screen in a film about the race that was watched by 3.5m people from the roadside.

Medics: Fighting Ebola in Africa

A doctor, nurse and paramedics are among half a dozen NHS staff from Yorkshire who will spend Christmas in Sierra Leone treating Ebola patients. Julie Flaherty, 58, from Huddersfield, who now works in Hereford, is working at a treatment centre in Port Loko.

She said: “The children here are often orphans so their needs are even greater – just by befriending them you can make a whole world of difference.”