Dear Reader: Henshaws' inspirational work + Is Everyman for everyone?

Henshaws College for the Blind near Knaresborough.
Henshaws College for the Blind near Knaresborough.

A weekly column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

I thought I knew Henshaws, a charity supporting people with sight loss and a range of other disabilities, well enough.

I’d been to the bright and welcoming group of workshops that make up its arts and crafts centre in Knaresborough many times before, usually to see a rock band or MC at a music event such as BedFest.

But last week I had the privilege of joining the judging panel for Henshaws’ first Celebration Awards.

Sitting alongside fellow judges from organisations such as Raworths, Harrogate & Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service and senior Henshaws staff members I soon realised I didn’t really know Henshaws at all. Despite the fact my own nephew was declared blind six years ago I had no idea of the sheer scale of effort and patience it takes to help its students overcome their various disabilities on the way to enjoying the sort of full life you and I take for granted.

Or, for that matter, the sheer scale of effort and patience it takes from the students themselves.

It must have got to me more than I noticed.

Sitting there reading all the written submissions about the lives of the nominees, all of a sudden I started to well up.

Personally speaking, I’m torn about the arrival of the Everyman in Harrogate.

A new cinema is certainly great news for film fans and I certainly consider myself one of those.

On the other hand I feel a residual affection for the grand old lady of the town’s movie scene.

I refer, of course, to the Odeon.

If everything about this ageing architectural masterpiece was as good as screen three where I enjoyed Woody Allen’s new film Cafd Society in new seating with massive leg room, there wouldn’t be any problem.

But this art deco building is still in the middle of catching up with modern times as it prepares to celebrate its 80th birthday.

Nothing about Everyman conjurs memories of the rickety old Scala where I first went to ‘the pictures’ in my childhood days in a small Scottish town.

Despite the obvious attractions of Harrogate’s shiny newcomer, it may be those days haven’t left me. entirely.

Perhaps watching a digitally-screened movie in a bigger, better, more luxurious version of my front room with some nice food isn’t wholly for me?

A long time ago I travelled with my brother by train to Edinburgh to see the premiere of Once Upon A Time In America.

Sergio Leone’s classic 1920s gangster saga was epic in achievement and epic in duration, lasting nearly four hours.

So long, in fact, we missed the last train home and had to sit all night in Waverley Station, (in the days when that sort of thing was tolerated), until seven the next morning.

And I didn’t mind a bit.