My highs and lows of 2012

14th December 2012.  Celebrating Yorkshire winning the bid to host the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France are, from left, first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France Brian Robinson, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity and the first rider to win a points jersey on a Grand Tour Malcolm Elliott.
14th December 2012. Celebrating Yorkshire winning the bid to host the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France are, from left, first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France Brian Robinson, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity and the first rider to win a points jersey on a Grand Tour Malcolm Elliott.

Is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year required viewing in your house? It is in ours, but I usually take the opportunity to indulge in a very long pamper session well away from the television.

However, I have to admit that I did watch quite a lot of it this time round, partly because it has been such an amazing year with the Olympics and the Paralympics, but also because I’m a great fan of the Tour de France and I wanted Bradley Wiggins to win the trophy – which he did, I’m glad to say.

2012: a great year

2012 definitely ended on a high note for me with the news that Gary Verity and his team from Welcome to Yorkshire have succeeded in bringing the Tour to Yorkshire in 2014. What a coup to have beaten the likes of Florence!

“Amazing”, “incredible”, “fantastic”, “superb” and other superlatives have been rather overworked in 2012, but it was a very special year with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics/Paralympics.

Here in Wetherby, our Jubilee celebrations were definitely the highpoint of the year for me. It was a wonderful weekend, even if the rain spoiled our mammoth picnic in the Market Place on the Sunday. It certainly didn’t spoil the Jubilee service which we moved into the Town Hall and which turned out to be a very moving and atmospheric event. Just a good job that the Health and Safety police weren’t around!

The weekend was even more special for me because we shared it with 20 of our friends from Privas, including the Mayor and his wife. We are now into our 21st year of the twinning link which is quite an achievement.

The Jubilee celebrations showed how well our community can work together and produce something quite extraordinary for a small town. I will be eternally grateful to all those volunteers who worked so hard for nearly two years to put on the show.

Not long after the Jubilee, we had the visit of the Olympic torch which drew hundreds of people on to our streets. What an atmosphere it created. I think it will prove to have been a foretaste of what happens when the Tour de France arrives in a town – the razzamatazz, the cars, the coaches.

The torch procession then led into the period of the Olympics and Paralympics and although nothing special happened in our town, it was a truly extraordinary period in the life of this country. As I have commented before, Lord Coe and his colleagues proved all the Jonahs wrong and gave the world a spectacle which will be hard to beat. Yorkshire again proved to have the winning formula, outdoing many countries in its medal tally. Well done to all of the athletes, the volunteers and the organisers who made us proud to be British.

Local groups thrive

2012 was a special year for the Wetherby Sports Association which celebrated its 10th anniversary and for the more recently formed Friends of Sandringham Park who achieved the rare accolade of a Green Flag Award.

If you haven’t seen it, pop down to the Park and have a look at the flag which flies proudly from a newly installed flagpole.

Both organizations are run by volunteers and do such a lot for the young people in our town.

Sandringham Park had become a real problem area with anti-social behaviour. The Friends have worked so hard to turn things round and make the Park a positive rather than a negative in the town. Watch out for their Fun Day in the summer – it’s a great family event.

Low point: shop 
closure

The low point of the year for me personally was the closing down of my shop. Unfortunately, as with many other businesses, both major chains and small independents, high rent and rates and falling sales are fatal.

I very much hope that 2013 will be a better year for business, but I have to say, it’s not looking good.

I’m not keen on New Year Resolutions, but if each and every one of our local residents made a resolution to spend just £1 every week in a local shop (not just the supermarkets) during 2013, we would very soon have a town full of flourishing businesses.

A number of years ago, the then-Chamber of Trade did a survey which showed that more than 60% of local residents never shop in the town. They really are missing out.

Bonfire Night

I was very sad that our Bonfire Night had to be cancelled in November – as I’m sure were many of you. Let’s hope that we have a drier autumn in 2013 with less flooding on the Ings.

2013...?

I wonder what 2013 will bring for Wetherby? If all of our enthusiastic volunteers have anything to do with it, I feel sure that it will be just as fantastic as 2012.