Royal honour for 'humbled' Blind Jack campaigner

Blind Jack sign - Roger Hewitt, the Town Crier of Knaresborough;  Bernard Higgins of the Blind Jack of Knaresborough Tri-centennial Anniversary Committee; Coun Anne Jones, Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate; and Coun David Goode, Mayor of Knaresborough, unveil the road sign in honour of John Metcalf in 2017.
Blind Jack sign - Roger Hewitt, the Town Crier of Knaresborough; Bernard Higgins of the Blind Jack of Knaresborough Tri-centennial Anniversary Committee; Coun Anne Jones, Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate; and Coun David Goode, Mayor of Knaresborough, unveil the road sign in honour of John Metcalf in 2017.

One of the most dynamic forces in last year’s celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of legendary Knaresborough figure John ‘Blind Jack’ Metcalfe has been invited to Buckingham Palace.

But former teacher Bernard Higgins insists the honour reflects the hard work of everyone involved in the Blind Jack of Knaresborough Tri-centennial Anniversary Committee.

He said: “I was incredibly humbled when I opened the official letter during Christmas week from the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire’s Office and read my name had been submitted for invitation to attend Her Majesty The Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in May.

“But everyone single person on the committee was instrumental in achieving what we did last year.

“The planning itself took nearly two year and my wife Emma and family had to put up with a lot, too!”

A series of charity events to mark the legendary roadbuilder’s achievements was held throughout the year.

Perhaps the biggest was the successful bid to have part of the Knaresborough-Harrogate bypass renamed.

Bernard said: "John Metcalf’s legacy is what we travel on a daily basis. The Tour de France and now the Tour de Yorkshire travel on some of the roads he originally built.

"The naming of the ‘John Metcalf Way’ along a three mile stretch of the A 658, the Southern Bypass on July 7 last year was long overdue.

"many thanks should go to Wallace Sampson, Richard Cooper and Sue Simmons for their help and guidance in the road naming proposal."

More than £2,200 was raised through Blind Jack events for local charities Vision Support Centre, Harrogate District, East Parade, Harrogate; RNIB, Tate House, Wetherby Road, Harrogate and Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre, Bond End, Knaresborough.