Dear Reader: My amazing hero + who needs a 'fan park' in Harrogate?

Brave and battling and helping others - Lauren Doherty. (1807102AM1)
Brave and battling and helping others - Lauren Doherty. (1807102AM1)

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

Lauren Doherty might not be the old-fashioned definition of a hero but she’s been mine ever since I met her on Friday lunchtime at her home in Knaresborough.

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

The former Harrogate High School student likes to go out with friends to socialise, to the cinema or a restaurant.

She likes to go shopping and go to rock concerts to see the likes of UB40 or the Manic Street Preachers.
And she also goes back to hospital in Sheffield once a year for a check-up on her spinal injury and to Harrogate Hospital on a regular basis.

The progress this determined but cheery young woman has been incredible since the accident a decade ago which changed her life forever.

Still paralysed all these years later after a traumatic road accident as a teenager, the doctors not only said she would never be able to move again, she wouldn’t be able to breathe unaided.
Such is her strength of character, Lauren has proved them all wrong.

She still needs intenstive 24-hour care, still has two carers attending to her and still has a wheelchair as a constant companion.
But to see her talking is to see the spirit that has carried her so very far - despite a list of long-term physical effects which no amount of time will ease.

Not that they stop her doing much or trying to help others.
These days once a month on average you will find Lauren at a local school somewhere in North Yorkshire - or a scout group or the cubs - to tell children her own story in her own words.
This inspirational young woman is no martyr figure.

After crossing the road at the wrong place at the wrong time, she simply wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. Her advice to youngsters on staying safe when crossing the road is remarkably honest and remarkably brave.
My hero.

Dear Reader: War on plastic waste + new Harrogate brewery

Harrogate is awash in outdoor events these days.

The Stray alone has been hosting a giant art installation - the Luminarium - thanks to Harrogate International Festivals, while next weekend will see it welcome six of of the UK’s top rock tribute bands as part of Harrogate Fake Festivals.

One thing you may have noticed Harrogate town centre hasn't had recently, however, is a ‘fan park’ and a big screen.

Despite the heroics of Gareth Southgate’s footballers in the World Cup, maybe that’s for the best.
The combination of sunshine, alcohol and football doesn’t always bring out the best in everyone.

In case you’re tempted to say “yes, well, but this is Harrogate” may I point out that in the turbulent early 1980s at a time of serious unrest in Brixton and Toxteth, Harrogate had its own riot in the town centre.

I guess there must have been a shortage of Halkidiki olives or Halloumi paste