Happiness is a town called Harrogate – and that’s official.
The town has beaten the likes of York and Shrewsbury and, even, London to be named the happiest place to live in the entire country.
Being located in the heart of ‘God’s County’, this happy bit of recognition shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, not to a town which can boast The Stray, Bettys and Valley Gardens among its crown jewels.
Anyone who lives here knows exactly how great Harrogate and its fabulous lifestyle is.
But to receive the accolade for the third year running is unprecedented and truly remarkable.
Even the man behind the Grand Depart triumph at last year’s Tour de France, Sir Gary Verity, is impressed.
Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Sir Gary said for Harrogate to head the list for the third year running was fantastic:
“Harrogate is such a very special place – the great people who live there, the heritage and the history alongside contemporary events too like the Harrogate International Festival and the Great Yorkshire Show. It is such an amazing place.”
As to what makes Sir Gary happy when he visits Harrogate, the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said: “The quality of the gardens and all the planting, which give residents and visitors alike so much pleasure and, of course, a good cup of tea at Bettys.”
Rightmove’s Happy At Home Index asked residents to rank a number of factors in their home and community.
Harrogate was rated high in terms of general upkeep of the town, safety and being proud of where people lived.
No surprise, really.
Celebrating the town’s success, Mike Newby, director of Visit Harrogate, who was regarded as one of the town’s happiest ever mayors, said: “To come top two years running was great but to be named the happiest place for a third time is amazing.
“It just shows why visitors rate us so highly. According to Visit England, the number of visitors who think we are friendly and welcoming greatly exceeds the national average.”
The 12 factors which went towards the final results ranged from contentment and pride to value and neighbourliness.
Harrogate proved strong in most categories, edging out Chester, Ipswich, Shrewsbury and York in the top five positions.
Two key points in creating Harrogate’s success were recreation and amenities, two areas in which Harrogate Borough Council can claim to be national leaders.
Mayor of the borough of Harrogate, Coun Nigel Simms, said: “I am delighted that Harrogate has been recognised in this way for the third year running but I am not surprised as Harrogate has a lot to offer with outstanding schools and a safe community.
“It is also a great commercial centre with a vibrant heart and welcomes visitors from all over the world. Harrogate is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Yorkshire at its best is on our doorstep.”
Coun Richard Cooper, council leader, hailed the town’s fantastic shopping, plentiful restaurants and cafes and great entertainment and leisure opportunities.
But he also highlighted its affluence and thriving economic sector.
He said: “Harrogate is a fantastic part of the world to live in. Residents benefit from a great quality of life with low unemployment, low crime, excellent local services, on-going investment, highly regarded schooling and great community spirit.
“People are proud of their homes here and their town.”
Every success comes at a price, however.
The Happy at Home survey’s organisers at Rightmove, point out that property asking prices are higher than the national average.
It’s a price which seems inevitable, given the attractive nature of Harrogate.
Simon Myring, director of Myrings Estate Agents in Harrogate, said: “Harrogate really does have it all. Its prosperity is reflected in the cost of buying and renting in the town where demand often exceeds supply. But who wouldn’t want to live in the place we are all very pleased to call home.”
Rightmove may have gone a bit too far on one thing, however.
It’s suggested, a little tongue in cheek, that the town thinks about changing its name in future to ‘Happygate.’
That may be a step too far if it makes us even happier, who knows?
Mike Newby said: “Harrogate is a great place to live and to visit – let’s just keep smiling.”
Who do you think is the happiest person in Harrogate? Someone well known, or someone in your family?
Sir Gary Verity has given his vote of happiest Harrogate person to a former mayor, and now chief executive of Visit Harrogate, Mike Newby.
Let us know what you think at www.facebook.com/HarrogateAdvertiser, tweet @HarrogateHound or email firstname.lastname@example.org