Fiona Movley is chairman of the board of trustees for Harrogate International Festivals. She has been involved in the charitable sector in Harrogate for more than 30 years.
It’s even more remarkable when you consider that charities are behind so many of our amazing events. From its festivals to theatre, they not only bring vitality and money to the town but show the beating heart of the people behind them.
My first pick is the festival’s Sunday Series. Perhaps Harrogate International Festivals is best known for its literary and summer music festivals, but the Sunday Series, now in its 25th year, has built an astounding legacy bringing the finest classical talent to our doorstep. It’s become very much part of my life.
In that grey zone after Christmas when the first concert begins, it’s like being plugged into a battery charger.
Whether it’s snowing, drizzling or the spring sunshine is struggling outside and you can hear the tweets of birdsong between movements, it doesn’t matter what the weather, the music from the stage washes over you. The power is incredible.
I love that it’s something younger audiences are discovering too, thanks to the festivals’ Library of Live scheme, which offers free tickets to young people. Like the music crossing centuries,
I hope these concerts endure for generations to come.
That generational anchor resonates in my next choice. I’m the fourth generation of my family to live and work in Harrogate, so I’ve got an affinity to longstanding family names that I’ve grown up with. Places like Jespers of Harrogate, who have been here four generations, and families like Mackaness at Rudding, Ogden’s and Theakston’s. Those generational businesses are more than nostalgia, they add to a sense of ‘home’. Hubert Swainsons funeral services is family-run and must have touched so many families in the last 100 years, including my own going back to the 1960s.
My next pick is the Great Yorkshire Show. It’s the greatest show on turf!
The Yorkshire Agricultural Society is a charity I’ve been involved with. As well as delivering this landmark event in our town, I love that when you go for a cup of tea at Fodder the money is going back into the countryside.
It’s a virtuous cycle, as Fodder buys from local producers, and the money goes back into supporting the countryside.
I worked at St Michael’s Hospice 18 years ago. It’s another charity where a job is never just a job, the staff and volunteers there are incredible. It’s a very special place giving comfort, support and vital care.
I’m proud to have worked there. It was like working with a family. They all pull together, they all look after each other.
Finally, I love taking my border terrier Angus on The Stray.
When you drive into Harrogate and it opens up on the left and right, I think, wow aren’t we lucky.