The Nidderdale Voices column with Kathryn O’Connor

Kathryn O'Connor
Kathryn O'Connor
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This week it’s the turn of TV producer Kathryn O’Connor to face the probing questions in the latest instalment of Nidderdale Voices. 
Here how she got on.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

The Tour de Yorkshire has played a part in attracting visitors to Nidderdale.

The Tour de Yorkshire has played a part in attracting visitors to Nidderdale.

I grew up in Middlesmoor, my dad moved the family up there from Bradford in 1980 so I have him to thank for such an idyllic childhood.

I spent many happy years at Lofthouse School and then Upper Nidderdale High and return regularly to visit my mum who now lives in Pateley.

I work as a TV Producer in Manchester currently on ITV’s Cold Feet.

The legendary Middlesmoor pantomimes were a great training ground but I got my break on Emmerdale with Nidderdale providing lots of juicy storyline material!

Describe a typical day for you.

I start the day walking our giant rescue Lurcher, Lolly; it clears my head.

After the school run I wade through emails; the writer I’m working with lives in Australia so I often work odd hours.

Once filming starts any routine goes out of the window and normal life takes a back seat.

What would be your perfect day out?

Weekends are dedicated to family time. After breakfast at The Pancake House we’d blow the cobwebs away doing the Nature Trail at Studfold; it’s a nice manageable walk and keeps the kids occupied enough for them not to notice the distance covered.

This would be followed by a hearty lunch at The Crown, Middlesmoor and a large glass of red by the fire. Then back to the butchers in Pateley to stock up on pies – they don’t make pies like that in Lancashire.

What’s your favourite part of the Dale?

Church Banking, Middlesmoor. Even as a kid I’d sit there and take in that view, it gives you an enormous sense of perspective – city living can see the walls closing in at times, we all need that space.

St Chad’s is a special place; I married my husband, Tom there, christened my girls, Juliet and Georgina and my Dad is laid to rest there. I often sit with him in the churchyard; he’s been gone almost 10 years but continues to play a huge part in my life.

Which is your favourite Nidderdale business?

There are so many I couldn’t pick a single favourite.

The kids love Birchfield Farm, it adapts to the seasons from Lambing Live to Pumpkin Picking and makes tasty ice-cream.

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

There are a lot more visitors than there used to be and the fabulous Tour de Yorkshire has been influential in that.

Maybe I’m classed as a tourist now, I don’t know the rules but I do know that my heart is still here.

Coming to the dale from Bradford we were referred to as “off-cumnants”; mum ran Middlesmoor Post Office and Dad went on to run the youth club in his spare time but it was a good few years before we accepted as proper locals.

You have to work at it!

What makes Nidderdale so special?

The landscape and the people; the characters, the friendships, the banter.

Everyone knows everybody’s business but I think that’s a gift not a curse.

The sense of community and looking out for each other here is like nowhere else on earth.

What would you say to recommend Nidderdale?

There’s something for everyone; a warm welcome, plenty to see, do, eat…especially eat; The Sportmans Arms, Yorke Arms, The Crown Lofthouse – all serve deliciously fresh local produce. I’d recommend a trip up to Scar house; it’s a spectacular feat of engineering, or a wander round How Stean Gorge – Yorkshire’s Little Switzerland.

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

If it were an easy fix I’d pedestrianise the high street tomorrow. But it’s not, so that aside, nothing.

Nidderdale is perfect just as it is.