Harrogate Town promotion 'great for Yorkshire' says boss of tourism board
Harrogate Town's football heroes have been praised by the head of Yorkshire tourism who predicted the town would be boosted by "bumper days" in new derby matches.
James Mason, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said Harrogate Town's promotion to the English Football League for the first time in its history was richly deserved and would have an economic impact, too.
Mr Mason said: "Harrogate Town AFC’s promotion to the football league isn’t just great news for Harrogate but the whole of Yorkshire.
"I'm delighted for all involved. It's such a major achievement.
"Make no mistake, Harrogate Town may have waited 106 years to play in the top four divisions of England’s football league pyramid but no one can deny they don’t deserve it.
"While Harrogate’s players have been full-time for a few years, it’s fantastic to have another ‘pro’ club in Yorkshire.
Games against Bradford City will be lively local derbies with both clubs set to have bumper days (depending on social distancing rules with respect to spectators at the time).
"With Harrogate being a ‘new club, for visiting fans to tick off their list, the town can expect an influx of visitors every other week and why wouldn’t you visit such a beautiful and iconic spa town.
"Accommodation providers, transport companies, bars and restaurants will all do well. "
Writing in his column in the Harrogate Advertiser, the chief executive said Welcome to Yorkshire’s role was to encourage travelling fans from all over the UK to come for a weekend, the same with Leeds and Sheffield United with international tourists.
This didn't just mean coming to watch a football match but bringing family and friends to visit one of the many attractions in the area to make a weekend of it.
Mr Mason said the county's tourism organisation was proud to have launched its new My Y membership scheme at the start of the month.
Although the new card was available to anyone, he was delighted that some of Yorkshire's most famous names were already supporting it, including actor Sir Patrick Stewart and 'Captain Tom.'
The brand new personal membership My Y, was launched on Yorkshire Day (1st August) with its first honorary and very special members, international multi-award-winning actor (Mirfield lad) Sir Patrick Stewart, living legend and centenarian Captain Sir Tom Moore (from Keighley), Yorkshire shepherdess and TV star Amanda Owen (Swaledale via Huddersfield), plus gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh (Ilkley born and bred).
Some honorary My Y members have even done their own films celebrating the fact, including Sir Patrick Stewart from his LA home about his love of Yorkshire (already watched by over 55k people internationally), Amanda Owen chatting about her life in the great Yorkshire Dales and Alan Titchmarsh talking about his passion for the environment and the importance of trees, alongside Captain Sir Tom sharing his Yorkshire memories have all been watched, shared and appreciated by an international audience in response to the launch of My Y.
Mr Mason said: "The My Y membership has been launched to unite people across the globe who have a love of, or links to Yorkshire, and allows them to have their very own piece of the county with a tree planted, and can be appreciated wherever they are in the world.
"It's ideal for any individual, as a gift or to remember a loved one.
"Our impressive PR launch this month saw Welcome to Yorkshire’s MY Y personal membership receive an immediate 900k+ impressions online and 34k+ engagements in just one weekend. Uniting people across the globe and showcasing the county on a global scale.
"Welcome to Yorkshire’s Y badges are internationally recognised, and now exclusively for My Y members there’s a forest (it had to be) green Y badge too.
"It's fantastic for the environment and wildlife, as well as (like sport) health and well-being.
"During recent months, in particular, the preservation and nurture of the outdoors and feeling united, has become more important than ever.
"I was incredibly pleased to accept Captain Tom's honorary green Y badge and also the Welcome to Yorkshire Pride of Yorkshire award, in recognition of his amazing charity fundraising of £38.9m (with gift aid) for NHS charities.
"The county couldn’t be more proud of the inspirational Captain Sir Tom Moore.
"Since receiving his Yorkshire honours to celebrate Yorkshire Day, his pride in the county has been particularly palpable and it’s been great to see him wearing his Y badge with pride, on show to the world, especially when he visited Harrogate’s Army Foundation College in his new role as their Honorary Colonel.
"The world is experiencing some tricky times at the moment and for proud Yorkshire folk across the globe, this is an ideal time to come together as part of My Y yorkshire.com/become-a-member
The chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said it was important to stay positive during the pandemic and sports like football could play an important role in that.
Mr Mason said: " From sporting teams and their amazing achievements to the simple pleasures of planting trees for future generations, that united feeling of people coming together on a local, national and global scale must be celebrated.
"There’s no denying that sport brings people together, not just regionally, nationally, but internationally too.
"Think of the Yorkshire euphoria in 2012 when the county excelled at the London Olympics amassing 12 medals, seven gold, two silver and three bronze, placing it twelfth in the medal table, a county triumphing over many countries.
"The opening ceremony alone was watched by 900 million people across the globe. Then in 2014 Yorkshire hosted the Tour de France Grand Depart, hailed as the grandest of Grand Departs ever and attracting an audience of millions.
"Bringing people together across the world for a common cause that reaps the greatest of pleasures for all and gives something back, can only be a good thing.
"Embrace the good things happening, support sport AND branch out by becoming a My Y member.
"Give all good things a sporting chance, it’s what we need right now.
"As they say, mighty oaks from little acorns grow!
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