Former Ripon mayor turns author aged 86

A pensioner who earned the name Mr Ripon has become a first-time author at the age of 86.

By Janet Harrison
Friday, 11th March 2022, 3:26 pm

John Richmond BEM has published Beyond the Farm Gate, the memoirs of the former mayor, which take the reader on an emotional journey.

The current mayor of Ripon, Councillor Eamon Parkin, who received an advance copy of the limited-edition book, said: “I just couldn’t put it down.

“It is beautifully written and made me both laugh and cry and I’m sure it will similarly affect anyone fortunate enough to obtain a copy.

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“Poignant passages, telling of sad events in John’s life, are balanced with comical episodes, told with a Tyke’s sense of humour.

“As I read the book, I was wiping tears of sorrow and laughter from my eyes.”

All proceeds from the sale of the 280-page book, will go to the charity Breast Cancer UK.

It is dedicated to John’s beloved wife Barbara, who died of breast cancer in July 2013.

They were married for 55 years and in 1975-1976, served as mayor and mayoress of the city.

During their year of office, John represented the first and foremost Ripon with the mayors of younger namesakes in California and Wisconsin.

He made the Transatlantic trip, at his own expense, to join in celebrations for the USA’s Bi-centennial year.

His amusing description of how the meeting of the three Ripon mayors came about and the way he was greeted on the streets of San Francisco, is balanced with poignant stories from his childhood, growing up on a farm on the edge of Dallowgill Moor.

John recounts the sad tale of Old Bess, a war horse who served her country and was injured during World War I.

After military service, the black mare arrived at Carr House Farm, where John, was born in 1935.

An accidental slip into a farm ditch, saw her suffer terrible injuries and she had to humanely put to sleep.

John, a life-long animal lover, was six at the time, but 80 years on that memory still brings tears to his eyes.

By contrast, a tale that always makes him smile is when he made history, by becoming the only serving mayor to act as Ripon hornblower.

It came in December 1975 when Ripon had just one hornblower, who said he wanted to take a Christmas break from the nightly duty of setting the watch.

With no fellow member of Ripon City Council willing to take on the ceremonial task, John said he would do it, but soon regretted his hastily made offer.

More about this and other incidents in a life of remarkable service, that saw him receive his BEM in the 2021 New Year’s Honours, are in the book.

Beyond the Farm Gate, is now available at various outlets, including The Little Ripon Bookshop in the city’s Westgate, where John will be signing copies of his book between 11am and 1pm on Saturday March 12.

There will also be signings at the Mason’s Arms pub in Bishop Monkton, from 6pm on 11 March and at Ripon Golf Club at lunchtime on 17 March.

The book, costing £15, is also available from Kirkby Malzeard historian Tony Sinfield.