“Yesterday I was in Nidderdale where earlier this year I walked the Nidderdale Way. I like saying Nidderdale – a lot. I might just say it for the rest of the morning randomly. Nidderdale. I was up in Pateley Bridge for the Nidderdale Food and Drink Festival,” so said Clare Balding OBE on her BBC Radio 2 Good Morning Sunday programme last week.
She also said on the programme: “People are naturally very warm in the rural area. They are really friendly. I felt very loved, thank you to the people of Nidderdale.”
Clare Balding’s radio programme followed her visit the day before to Nidderdale and Pateley Bridge. She repeated saying Nidderdale during the programme. She also mentioned meeting Teamo the Meerkat in Pateley Bridge whilst visiting the first Nidderdale Food and Drink Festival. A meerkat at a food festival, well more of that later.
The first food festival was supported by all the businesses around Pateley Bridge who offered free samples of their products with food and drink stalls in the Memorial Hall. What a day with thousands of people coming to the event. One business owner commented that it was like the best of any bank holiday weekend in recent times in Pateley Bridge – at the end of October!
In the afternoon in the Memorial Hall, a very special ceremony took place during the food festival. The very first Community Hero award was announced. The judging panel was made up of Methodist Mike, Reverend Darryl Hall, Town Mayor Chris Hawkesworth, Stray FM’s Patrick Dunlop and of course my good self. We were joined on stage by none other than Clare Balding OBE to present the fantastic silver trophy which had kindly been provided for the event by Anne Jones the Mayor of Harrogate.
Anne Jones, when she became Mayor of Harrogate, had declared she wanted to recognise unsung heroes in our community who do so much in an area voluntarily. We were all absolutely delighted when Martin Dunleavy and Paul Lambert recently retired scout leaders for Nidderdale were announced as the joint winners of these inaugural awards.
Martin and Paul have over 70 years combined service as joint leaders of the Nidderdale Scouts. Clare Balding presented the trophy to them. OK, maybe Bear Grylls the Chief Scout should have presented it, but Clare Balding is in my opinion a pretty good stand in.
Clare then went on to do a book signing of her latest children’s book The Racehorse Who Disappeared. Eat your heart out major book retailers - all the books sold out with so many happy faces having met Clare, getting their books signed and having a photograph taken with her. Thank you to Debbie Grassam and Sandra Walker from Nidderdale Plus for assisting with the sales of the books and liaising with Clare for each signing. I am hoping more celebrities will be knocking on our door for their book signings having heard what a friendly and warm welcome they would receive in Pateley Bridge.
The other star of the show was Teamo the meerkat. Meerkats are not legally allowed to be kept as pets but Janet Bennett cares for Teamo as she rescues wild animals and cares for them. Teamo cannot be released back into the wild having been taken away from his pack. Everyone wanted to meet Teamo and have their photograph taken with him including Clare and her wife Alice. Both adore meerkats!
Clare, on returning to London, tweeted a photograph of Teamo the meerkat on her arm resting while she did her booking signing. Clare has over three quarters of a million followers on Twitter and she tweeted ‘a meerkat only in Nidderdale’. Nidderdale on BBC Radio 2 and tweeted around the world - Nidderdale is the brand, Pateley Bridge is the capital, and both are places to visit. Passionate about Pateley and as Clare Balding OBE says, “I like saying Nidderdale”.