The Nidderdale Voices column with Clive Billingham

The wedding at Wath Chapel.
The wedding at Wath Chapel.

Everyone loves a wedding and all weddings are special to the couple involved. However, this wedding was extra special to Nidderdale because the couple concerned are the newly married Mr and Mrs Clive Billingham who were married on 18 May at Wath Chapel.

The beautiful old chapel was brought back to life for this celebration, but as it is no longer licenced for weddings the legal part of the ceremony was conducted at Pateley Methodist Church.

Clive Billingham.

Clive Billingham.

Friends and relations gathered at Wath and this is where Clive and Min like to think their wedding took place.

Clive was born in the West Midlands, but his job took him to live in different parts of the country. A city that he particularly loved was Bradford where he lived for 10 years, initially teaching English to Kashmiri immigrants.

It was whilst living in Bradford that Clive discovered the Dales and so 27 years ago he bought a caravan at Heathfield where it has been ever since.

Nidderdale became Clive’s second home.

So when you meet that special person on a blind date – the one whom you want to spend the rest of your life with, how do you introduce her to your “other life”?

Fortunately, Min was used to caravanning, but she had never ever been to Yorkshire. When she saw Nidderdale she was as smitten as Clive had always been and so it seemed perfectly natural that they would both want to celebrate their very happy event here in Nidderdale.

Wath Chapel was also very special.

The peace and tranquillity of this spiritual place set in that beautiful valley made it somewhere that both Clive and Min would like to preserve. With this in mind they asked their guests not to give them wedding presents, but to give a donation to the preservation of Wath Chapel: over £700 has been raised so far.

Describe a typical day

A day in the caravan starts with a bacon sandwich and then we are off for a walk. This may be to somewhere deep in the countryside or off exploring one of the Yorkshire towns.

I have so enjoyed introducing Min to Knaresborough and Ripon because, like me, she is interested in the architecture. Reading is also very important to me and I make sure that I always have a book to hand in the caravan.

What would be your perfect day out?

I am so lucky in having two lives. When I am at my house in Nottingham I am reasonably near to the capital city, where my daughter and granddaughters and son live. A day visiting the art galleries in London is a change and a contrast.

What is your favourite part of the Dale?

Sitting by a little waterfall which is down the valley from How Stean

What is your favourite Nidderdale business?

Kendall’s Butchers. They made a gigantic pork pie for our wedding reception.

We must of course also mention The Sportsman’s Arms and Toft Barn who also contributed to the festivities.

Ray and Billy and Caroline and their respective staff gave service and hospitality way beyond the norm.

If there is one thing that you could change what would it be?

There are so many houses being built but they are all so expensive.

I feel that the younger people who want to stay and work in the Dale should have the opportunity to rent or buy something within their price range.