Yorkshire Vet Julian Norton and the Calendar Girls were among the winners at the eleventh annual Dalesman Awards.
The event which took place on Sunday, 14 May, 2017, at Utopia, Broughton Hall, Skipton, was hosted by author and poet Ian McMillan.
This year’s recipient of the Yorkshireman of the Year Award was all-round action hero Julian Norton. Julian takes part in triathlons, Iron Man races and ski mountaineering and is world-record holder for 24-hour indoor rowing. He was selected for the GB duathlon team in 2014, being proud to compete for his country. But he is best known to millions of television viewers as the Yorkshire Vet. He works at the Skeldale Veterinary Centre in Thirsk, the original James Herriot practice, and the television series that follows him and fellow vet Peter Wright is by far Channel 5’s most watched programme. The current series is currently at the top of the ratings charts, with more viewers than ever before. Now, with more than two million tuning in every week, The Yorkshire Vet has been credited not only with raising the profile of the Yorkshire countryside, but also with increasing visitor numbers to Thirsk and the North York Moors. The award was presented by David Cutter of Skipton Building Society.
This year’s W R Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the Calendar Girls. They first started thinking about producing a charity calendar almost 20 years ago, never imagining the impact they would make. Since then there have been further best-selling calendars, a smash-hit film, a top-selling book, a stage play that became the most successful to ever tour the UK and now, in 2017, a hugely successful musical in the West End. Most importantly of all, the ladies of Rylstone & District WI have raised more than £3 million for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. What an achievement. The award was presented by David Mitchell, son of W R Mitchell.
The Rural Tourism Award was given to Dales Bike Centre, Fremington. One of the most popular bike cafes in the Yorkshire countryside, the Richmondshire centre is involved in running major events in the cycling calendar such as the Ardrock Enduro and the Nutcracker – both highly regarded in the national mountain biking scene. It is also famous for home-baked food and a warm welcome. The presentation was made by Sir Gary Verity of Welcome to Yorkshire and sponsors Yorkshire Cottages.
The Food and Drink Award went to Masons Yorkshire Gin of Bedale. Yorkshire’s first gin distillery is turning over one million pounds a year. The business was started by a married couple off the back of a Facebook page promoting gin and tonic that revealed a gap in the market. Their gin varieties include a Yorkshire Tea Gin and are now diversifying into making Yorkshire Vodka. The presentation was made by Victoria Robertshaw of Keelham Farm Shop.
Entrepreneur of the Year was awarded to the George and Dragon at Hudswell, Richmondshire. In 2008 the pub closed, leaving villagers with no facilities for its residents. Within two years the community banded together to form a limited business and bought back the pub, re-opening in June 2010 after extensive renovations. As well as acting as a meeting place and venue, it is now home to the village library, a local shop staffed by volunteers, community allotments and free internet access for its patrons. The presentation was made by ITV’s weatherman Jon Mitchell.
The Young Achiever of the Year Award was given to David Taylor of Yorkshire Young Sinfonia. This unique youth orchestra in Yorkshire, delivers life-changing residential courses for young musicians and unforgettable high profile concerts celebrating Yorkshire’s culture, focusing the nation’s media on the region’s cultural achievements. In September 2015, it gained national acclaim as the feature of the BBC Radio 4 programme Birth of an Orchestra with Alan Bennett. Working in partnership with Welcome to Yorkshire and the University of Leeds, it continues to attract the world’s best to Yorkshire. The orchestra consists of some of Yorkshire’s finest young musicians aged 12–18, who are provided with world-class tuition and cutting-edge workshops at the forefront of music education. The presentation was made by Graham Cairns of Yorkshire Bank.