David Parkin on a Big Night Out, all change at Asda and the ultimate insult

FROM the service you get at Bridlington Tourist Information Centre to the performances at Hull Truck Theatre to the food and drink at The Pheasant Hotel in Harome and the Bay Tree pub at Stillington.

The White Rose Awards are a yearly celebration of Yorkshire’s burgeoning tourism industry and my chance to note down plenty of places to visit over the next 12 months.

Monday night’s shindig, Welcome to Yorkshire’s Big Night Out at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, was attended by almost 1,000 people, the UK’s largest celebration of tourism.

Yorkshire’s sports stars also made an appearance with rugby league teams Leeds Rhinos, Castleford Tigers, Hull FC and the Bradford Bulls’ women there to share the celebrations and show off their trophies.

Champion featherweight boxer Josh Warrington was among the guests, fresh from his latest win against Dennis Ceylan the previous weekend.

The Leeds-born fighter is now aiming for a showdown with Welsh world champion Lee Selby and would dearly love the bout to be outdoors at Elland Road, home of his beloved Leeds United.

Interviewed by BBC correspondent Danni Hewson, fresh faced Josh doesn’t look like your typical professional boxer.

Asked about his recent win at Leeds Arena, he told Danni: “I love fighting at this Arena, mainly because it is only 10 minutes from my house.”

Retired cricketer Ryan Sidebottom was also honoured at the awards as he was made a Yorkshire Patron alongside Leeds Rhinos great Rob Burrow, who has also retired.

It was nice to see Ryan, who has played for England and Yorkshire and has taken over 1,000 career wickets and is the only cricketer in the last 15 years to win five county championships.

He’s now got a new challenge, having agreed to take part in the Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate 2018, following in the footsteps of sporting stars like Steve Cram, Kevin Sinfield, Phillip DeFreitas, Paul Nixon and Anthony McGrath.

Watch this space for more details.

Performing at the White Rose Awards were incredibly talented 17-year-old singer Emmie Beckett, the Yorkshire Regiment Band, aerial acrobats Urban Angels and unique dancers the Glo-men, who performed in suits covered in LED lights.

The light suits must have been pretty heavy and restricted the dancers’ movement, making them look like an arthritic version of Diversity.

Looking at the list of White Rose Award winners, I know about the undoubted quality of large hotel of the year Rudding Park and small hotel winner Yorebridge House in Leyburn.

Now I’m off to experience some of the other winners such as Yorkshire Dama Cheese in Sowerby Bridge, Camp Katur in Bedale, Estbek House in Whitby and Smallshaw Cottages and Spa in Sheffield.

The only disapppointment of the night was finding out accountant David Richmond of Armstrong Watson, a fellow guest on the Barclays table, has shaved his beard off, robbing us of the best Kenny Rogers lookalike east of the Mississippi Delta.


LAST week’s observations about regional newspaper group Johnston Press saw a tweet containing a link to my blog retweeted by Christian Ager-Hanssen and a phone call from an international news agency following the story.

The Norwegian-born investor, who now owns about 20% of Johnston Press shares, is trying to oust the chairman and chief executive of the owner of the Yorkshire Post, the Scotsman and the i national newspaper and replace them with his own nominees.

While I can understand why he’d want experienced newspaper operator Steve Auckland to become CEO, I have less belief in Ager-Hanssen’s choice to be chairman of JP.

It emerged this week that former Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond, who lost his Westminster seat in June’s general election, will become chairman should the bid to boot out the current chairman, Camilla Rhodes, succeed.

Given that The Scotsman is in favour of Scotland staying in the Union, Salmond was quick to assert that he wouldn’t have any editorial control should he become chairman.

It strikes me that should Ager-Hanssen’s coup happen at Johnston Press, he will require the skills and diplomacy of a unifying figure to chair the group, not a pugnacious street fighter like Salmond.

Since losing his parliamentary seat, Mr Salmond has hosted a weekly radio programme on LBC and a chat show at the Edinburgh Fringe.

While promoting the Fringe show, I heard him turn what should have been a fun radio interview into an argument because he refused to reveal any of the guests that would join him at the show.

He comes across as the type of character who could start a fight in an empty room and probably not the right person to raise morale and help heal a deeply bruised newspaper group.


IT is all change at Asda.

After showing no appetite for a change in management during the wilderness years in which Andy Clarke was in charge, his successor and namesake Sean Clarke is on his way after less than 18 months as chief executive.

This week’s announcement brought the news that Yorkshireman Roger Burnley is to take the top job at the Leeds-based supermarket in January.

The man who is currently chief operating officer of Asda, was at the company during the transformational period that Archie Norman and Allan Leighton were in charge and has since worked for other retailers including Matalan and Sainsbury’s.

He lives in Huddersfield, was born in Dewsbury and went to Heckmondwike Grammar School. I’d suggest that background is one that helps keep him grounded, but my concern is that as a non-executive director of Huddersfield Town, he might have had his head turned by the glamour of the Premier League, particularly with the Terriers’ recent win over Manchester United.

Just because Burnley has a good pedigree and was at Asda during the Archie and Allan glory years, doesn’t give him a divine right to succeed in restoring its fortunes.

But as Morrisons has shown with the appointment of CEO David Potts, having an experienced, pragmatic retailer at the helm really helps when it comes to the trench warfare that is the British grocery sector.


I WAS pleased to get an invitation to watch Derby County play at Elland Road on Tuesday evening.

Not because I thought my team had a chance of a rare win against Leeds United, more that it saved me from the usual Halloween routine of switching the telly and the lights off and sitting in the dark to avoid trick or treaters.

When Leeds took the lead after only eight minutes I thought I had probably made the wrong decision, particularly when the club’s fans compounded the misery of the away supporters by chanting at them: “You should have gone trick or treating.”

I was a guest of Edward Ziff (or Dr Edward Ziff OBE if you are going to give the chairman and chief executive of Town Centre Securities his full title) in the President’s Suite and it was nice to see some friendly faces including super fan Michael Michaelson, who always gives the impression he is doing a deal even when he is just saying hello to someone.

Among the others in the room it was good to see were Ross Pullan, Richard and Christine Boothroyd, Nick Salkeld of Bruntwood and former Arthur Anderson boss Mike Beverley, all of whom I sat with neighbouring the Elland Road directors’ box.

As I made my way to my seat I bumped into Derby County legends Roy McFarland and Roger Davies, who I apologised to in advance, saying that given I was being hosted by Leeds fans, I would be sitting on my hands should the Rams score.

That looked a remote possibility for well over an hour and then suddenly Derby burst forward and scored.

It led to an increase in the nervy and jerky movements of Leeds United coach Thomas Christiansen on the touchline in front of us, which only got worse following the award of a penalty against Leeds eight minutes later.

On the positive side, I thought Christiansen cut a dash in his navy blue suit, supplied by the club’s official suit partner Berwin & Berwin.

Whether he’s wearing it for much longer, given the club’s miserable current run of form, will have to be seen.


I’VE been called plenty of things in my life, but last Saturday night I received an insult that annoyed me more than any other.

A taxi driver, who I had booked to pick me up from the White Collar Warriors boxing evening in Leeds, had called me when he arrived and when I didn’t answer, left the venue a few minutes later.

I called him back and was quite put out that he hadn’t hung around waiting very long.

He, rightly, told me I should have answered my phone when he rang and then called me a “silly billy”.

Outrageous – and it made me angrier than if he’d sworn at me.

It just goes to show the power of words.

I’m sure the organiser and promoter of the White Collar Warriors evening – where Robin Hilton, co-founder of Leeds firm Researchbods battled to a points defeat – former mixed martial arts fighter and now coach John C Higo would have offered some sage advice about a suitable reply.

John is something of an urban philosopher with an earthy approach to the world – Armley’s answer to Aristotle.

Have a great weekend.

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