My Yorkshire: Emma Holling of Pure Records picks her favourite people and places

Emma Holling is director of the Underneath the Stars Festival.
Emma Holling is director of the Underneath the Stars Festival.
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Emma Holling lives in Cawthorne, Barnsley, and works for her family’s record company, Pure Records. She is also director of the Underneath the Stars Festival, which takes place at Cannon Hall Farm for the third time this summer.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory? When I was five, the Queen came to visit Cannon Hall Park in Cawthorne and I remember watching her walk through. There’s a photograph of 
my sister Kate and I wearing matching little jackets that our mum had made for us, with the Queen in the foreground. It’s a great memory and a treasured photo.

Emma Holling would like to take Sheffield athlete Jessica Ennis out for lunch.

Emma Holling would like to take Sheffield athlete Jessica Ennis out for lunch.

What’s your favourite part of the county and why? The outskirts of Barnsley, where we live. The countryside is just breathtakingly beautiful and people don’t expect it to be.

Do you have a favourite walk or view? I run and walk a lot locally and it’s the early morning views around here that are my favourite, particularly the one from the top of the hill at High Hoyland, which stretches out across Barnsley and the Pennines. That view is always my reward for making it to the top! One of my favourite photos of the festival was actually taken from that point, where the colourful tips of the big top style marquees are visible in the distance, poking out amongst the mass of green.

What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, in Yorkshire? The day would start with a run, but it would have to be followed by a lovely breakfast, probably at Yummy Yorkshire in Ingbirchworth, Huddersfield. As well as delicious eggs benedict in the cafe they also do fabulous artisan ice cream which is made on the farm. They are coming to the festival, which will be a real treat. I’m sure we would watch cricket at some point too, as it’s such a huge part of our family life. I would end the day at a ceilidh with family and friends and finally persuade my husband Jamie to dance with me!

Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch? It would have to be Jessica Ennis-Hill. She’s such a great ambassador for Sheffield and I really admire what she achieves as a working mum and athlete. I’d definitely ask her for some running tips. Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner? I think Michael Palin would be a really interesting dinner companion. I’ve read a lot of his books. I think he’s terrifically entertaining, and would have fantastic stories to tell.

Emma Holling believe's the Yorkshire character is shaped by the landscape and the Pennine Way.

Emma Holling believe's the Yorkshire character is shaped by the landscape and the Pennine Way.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? It’s definitely the communities and the people within them. But it’s also our geography – we’ve got the coastal heritage, but we’re also in the heart of England with the Pennine Way running through the middle. We’ve got a bit of everything!

If you had to name your Yorkshire hidden gem, what would it be? I would have to choose two – Cawthorne Museum and Barnsley Civic. The museum is run by volunteers and provides a fabulous snapshot of Yorkshire life. Not many people know about it, but they really should. Barnsley Civic is doing a great job of developing arts and culture in the borough – their programme is incredibly diverse and there’s something for all ages, so that’s definitely a gem for me too. Do you follow sport in the county and if so, what? Cricket is our family sport. It spans all the generations and as well as following the county team I also like to watch my sons play.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? We are really lucky where we live in Cawthorne. We can enjoy fine dining at Beatson House and also the Spencer Arms is well-renowned for the food they serve – and of course there is the added benefit of being able to walk home after a glass of wine! As a family we are also big fans of the Aagrah restaurants around the county. As well as the food being so nice, they are a great example of a Yorkshire family who have done really well for themselves.

Do you have a favourite food shop? That would have to be Cannon Hall Farm shop. The footpath there from our house is well trodden. We buy a lot from the bakery and meat counter.

Who is the Yorkshire person you most admire? My sister, Kate Rusby. She’s a successful singer songwriter and a real hero of mine, but she won’t have any idea that she is. She’s a real ambassador for Yorkshire and I love her music. Even today, some of her songs make me cry. I don’t tell Kate enough how much I admire her, and I will feel so proud watching her headline the festival in July.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had to visit one place, where would it be? The obvious answer is York but I feel Harrogate is also very special. It’s somewhere we go a lot. It has so much to offer – a spa, great food, theatre and, of course, Bettys Tea Rooms. It’s also the home of Yorkshire Tea and the Harrogate Spring Flower Show, which we visited for the first time this year.

How do you think Yorkshire has changed, for better or worse, in the time that you’ve known it? Yorkshire doesn’t stand still; it’s ever-evolving. There’s a lot of investment into the creative industries at the moment and the county is definitely benefitting from that. We’re seeing so much talent coming through and we’re really pleased to have so many Yorkshire bands and artists performing at the festival this year.

Underneath the Stars takes place at Cannon Hall Farm, near Barnsley, from July 22 to 24. For the full programme of events go to