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The Nidderdale Voices column featuring Mel Welch

Mel Welch.
Mel Welch.

Mel Welch is involved in running many of the events and organisations in Nidderdale, including Sport Nidderdale, the Max Pullan Recreation Ground, Darley Memorial Hall, Dacre Tennis Club and Focus on Darley.

He is also Chairman of a charity that grant aids outstanding young sportsmen and sportswomen in North Yorkshire and he helps to run Sand Moor Golf Club in Leeds.

Come to Nidderdale and be amazed, especially with the wonderful views.

Come to Nidderdale and be amazed, especially with the wonderful views.

He is a Life Vice President of the English Basketball Association and Vice-President of Leeds Sports Federation.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I confess that I was born in London, and when we moved to Watford, the rest of the family thought we had reached the edge of the known world!

However, after graduating from the University of Sussex, I got a job in Leeds, working for the English Basketball Association. After running the sport for over twenty years, I set up the Carnegie National Sports Development Centre and stayed there until early retirement gave my wife Sue and I the chance to move to Nidderdale.

We have thrown ourselves into almost everything that happens in Darley, where we live, and the Dale generally.

Describe a typical day for you

There’s no such thing as a typical day for me. Every day is different, that’s what makes life so rewarding.

I might be organising an event at Darley Memorial Hall, attending meetings of one of the charities or organisations that I help to run, or perhaps playing golf or tennis. Any time left is usually filled by helping Sue in her roles with the Parish Council, Nidderdale Museum, the British-American Committee at Menwith Hill, or Darley in Bloom.

In the unlikely event that we are both free, then it’s a chance to visit one of the many great places in the Dale that we enjoy.

What would be your perfect day out?

We would choose a perfect summer’s day, and take a trip into the Dales with the grandchildren.

Neither set of grandchildren live locally, so it’s always special to see them and show them what the Yorkshire Dales has to offer.

We could go to Bolton Abbey, Malham, Middleham, Kilnsey Park, Thorp Perrow – the list is endless. But, of course, we would be sure to include a stop in Pateley Bridge.

What’s your favourite part of the Dale?

It has to be Darley. Making our home here in a village community has given us a whole new way of looking at the world, after living and working in a big city for most of our life.

Which is your favourite Nidderdale business?

The new Darley Shop, in the playing fields pavilion, has been a great success.

The little cafe there is the ideal place to sit and relax and take in the magnificent view across the Dale, whilst enjoying the great food on offer.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in Nidderdale?

We’ve only been here for just over 10 years. We are newcomers really! But in our time, the most noticeable change has been the arrival of high-speed broadband, which connects us instantly with anywhere on the globe.

It has opened us up to the world.

In Darley this summer we are hosting a major national cycle race, a 100 kilometre charity walk for Blind veterans UK, and an evening of entertainment by Ian McMillan, the Bard of Barnsley, as well as many local events.

What makes Nidderdale so special?

The wonderful views. I usually go to Pateley Bridge over the top of Heyshaw and the views in every direction are breathtaking. Pateley Bridge is ahead; Coldstones Cut is on the skyline atop Greenhow Hill; Darley is down in the valley below; and the ethereal ‘golfballs’ of Menwith Hill stand as sentinels on the horizon.

What would you say to recommend Nidderdale?

Just come and be amazed!

If there’s one thing you could change, what would it be?

The only thing I would like to be able to change is the time that the sun sets!

It should be 10pm all the year round, so that we can enjoy those wonderful views all day, every day!