Hornblower given Yorkshire Patron honour

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Ripon Hornblower George Pickles has been made a Yorkshire Patron in recognition of his continued services to the county’s tourism.

Coun Pickles, who maintains one of the world’s oldest ongoing traditions with the nightly Setting of the Watch ceremony on the market square, has been given the honorary title by the county’s tourism agency, Welcome to Yorkshire.

He now joins famous names such as stage and film actor Sir Patrick Stewart, author Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE and cricketer Michael Vaughan who also hold the title.

George said: “I’m delighted to have been recognised in this way and it’s a real honour to say I’m now a Yorkshire Patron.

“I think that over the years as the Ripon Hornblower I’ve welcomed more than 70,000 people from all four corners of the world and with the Tour de France coming, I hope to welcome many more.”

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, bestowed the honour upon Coun Pickles on Ripon’s famous market square along with the presentation of an iconic Y-badge representing the tourist body.

Mr Verity said: “Yorkshire is known the world over for our famous welcome and George encapsulates this. Not only does he offer visitors a warm welcome but he fulfils an important historical and now globally famous role.”

The role of Hornblower safeguards the continuity of the ancient ceremony of the Setting of the Watch which has been carried out every evening on the market square without a miss for around 1,128 years. and is thought to be the longest ongoing unbroken daily ceremony in the world.

The roots of the ceremony can be traced back to 886 when Alfred the Great visited the city in the midst of the Vikings’ conquests.

He was so impressed by the place and support he was given by the people against the intruders that he decided to grant the community a Royal Charter.

As it was a spontaneous decision he did not have a parchment scroll or anything of that prepared.

All he had to offer them as a symbol of the charter was a horn. A Wakeman was then appointed to sound the horn at 9pm each evening to let the people know that the watch was set and they could retreat to their homes knowing the Wakeman would be awake and vigilant of any potentials intruders.

– For more information on the Hornblower and the role’s history see Coun Pickles’s website at