I am writing this column a couple of days after what was the most memorable evening that I can recall in many years.
I am still buzzing and on a high from the experience of being part of something which was truly magical. I am talking about Sunday evening when at the Pateley Bridge Memorial Hall the Nidderdale Chamber of Trade organised a film night to raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity.
As the advert for a well-known High Street store says this was no ordinary film night this was a Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE film night.
A silent movie produced nearly 100 years ago by Sir Sydney’s film producer father GB ‘Bertie’ Samuelson, the film on the night accompanied superbly by the renowned and accomplished piano player Mike Nolan.
A Bentley limousine brought the star of the show Sir Sydney to the Memorial Hall where a red carpet was laid ready for his grand entrance. Dignitaries including David Kerfoot MBE the Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Anne Jones the Mayor of Harrogate and town Mayor of Pateley Bridge Chris Hawkesworth were there to greet and welcome a legend of the British Film industry.
Sir Sydney at 91 is a remarkable man having been the first government appointed British Film Commissioner. He is credited by many as the man who saved the British film Industry.
The evening also showcased Sir Sydney’s nephew Will Samuelson, a top helicopter film pilot, giving a fascinating insight into his work. Film students were able to showcase their work during the evening’s entertainment.
The audience of over 100 at the end of the evening gave a standing ovation to Sir Sydney. At the end event it was wonderful to see people waiting for an opportunity to speak with, have a photograph or have an autograph from him.
So many people have been contacting me since the event to say what an amazing experience and impact the evening had on them. David Kerfoot MBE DL the Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire who we were honoured to have as a guest (as I know Sir Sydney was) sums things up in a letter quoting “another truly exceptional event which will be remembered for some time to come” and “The star was Sir Sydney and what an amazing gentleman he is”. Sir Sydney following the film evening stayed overnight at the Yorke Arms, Ramsgill where the owner Frances Atkins provided him with Nidderdale hospitality at its very best. On Monday morning Gloria and I took Sir Sydney to Leeds railway station to catch his train back to London.
Sir Sydney told us he had thoroughly enjoyed his time in Pateley Bridge and Nidderdale. He told us that he had found the film evening to be magical and said he felt like he was part of a movie being made.
He added that he was overwhelmed by the reception and welcome he had received. For someone who has been part of the BAFTAS and been to so many prestigious events it was a proud moment when he confided that he had never seen as many smiling friendly faces as he had at the Pateley Bridge Charity Film night. Quite unbelievably he added that it was the first occasion he had ever received a standing ovation.
suspect that everyone who was at the film night and those who met Sir Sydney will feel as I do that we were privileged to have met such a true star and gentleman.
I can honestly say I cannot recall such a person or social occasion having such a profound impact on me (other than Gloria and our marriage ceremony thirty-four years ago!) As we waved Sir Sydney off on the train my wife cried.
The good news is Sir Sydney says he will be returning with another silent movie his late father produced.