He is recognisable with his shock of white hair – those words were written about me in an article in last week’s Nidderdale Herald. The article was very flattering although I did think my hair was blonde!
The article was about a surprise event that was secretly being organised for me which was happening the day before publication of the feature in the newspaper.
Graham Chalmers who wrote the article (and was in on the secret arrangements) perhaps knew the surprise of it would shock me so much, that I would end up with white hair.
The event was last Wednesday evening and I did not have an inkling when I walked into the old HSBC bank premises that a surprise party had been organised for me.
The surprise party was thrown as I was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by His Royal Highness Prince Charles at an investiture at Buckingham Palace the week before.
I own the old bank building so you would imagine I would know what was going on in my premises – but no I didn’t – and to walk in and find over one hundred people waiting to greet me with three cheers was quite incredible.
Yes, I was lost for words for once which I know many of you will find very hard to believe.
I am told the plan had been hatched by Tim Ledbetter, my deputy on the Nidderdale Chamber of Trade, and Donna Clarke of Just Delicious Tea Rooms, the week before while I was away in London.
For the plan to come together it had also involved Kirsty Shepherd, my wife and everyone who knew about it playing their part by not letting the secret out.
As I walked amongst the gathering I was stunned as I kept seeing people in the packed room who I obviously knew but was not expecting to see them that evening – it was like wow – and you are here!
Tim then opened proceedings and said some really kind words.
He read out letters from some people who had not been able to attend including the Right Honourable Julian Smith MP, Sir Gary Verity DL, Jean McQuarrie and Graham Chalmers (editor and chief journalist respectively – Nidderdale Herald #buyapaper) who had all sent such kind messages of congratulations.
Tim then introduced Pateley Bridge’s number one supporter David Kerfoot MBE DL who was at the event with his wife Elizabeth.
Mr Kerfoot is an impressive speaker and he said such kind things.
Mr Kerfoot’s kind words following on from the tribute by Tim and the letters read out by him literally had me shaking with emotion.
Gloria realised and held my hand – now that doesn’t happen often!
I was then handed a knife to cut into the most beautiful cake which had been specially made for the occasion by Donna. The cake was most elegant, iced with a perfect copy of the MBE medal I had received from Prince Charles.
It looked amazing and of course tasted ‘Just Delicious’!
I am so grateful to each and everyone who came along to the event as well as to those who sent messages.
I would like to kindly thank all the people who helped out on the evening and to those who very generously contributed towards it.
I am proud to know such wonderful people who support and have the interests of Pateley Bridge and Nidderdale in their hearts.
The memories of the evening will always stay with me – but please never do that to me again.
I do not know whether I could stand the shock.
Yes Graham – I do now accept I have a shock of white hair.