David Parkin on the hottest ticket in town

AS invitations go, I think I’ve had the best one I’m ever going to get.

I know I thought seeing Jimmy Cricket at the Bradford Club couldn’t be topped, but seeing Sir Rod Stewart and Sir Elton John in one weekend must push it pretty close.

You may recall that in a blog earlier this year I wrote about hosting a discussion for Richard Cramer of Front Row Legal with Steve Parkin and Tony Mannix from hugely successful logistics company Clipper Group.

During that chat Steve recounted a great story about how Robbie Williams had performed at his housewarming party.

Only Robbie Williams, huge entertainment name that he is, was actually the third choice.

Steve had signed up his rock n roll hero Bruce Springsteen to perform at a party for family and friends at his home in North Yorkshire only for ‘The Boss’ to apologise that he couldn’t make it because another date added to his world tour clashed with it.

Steve’s wife Joanne then chose her favourite singer, Prince, who agreed to perform at the event.

Weeks later the Purple Rain star was found dead at his US home which led to Robbie Williams being booked for the event.

After telling this amazing story, Steve said he had missed out on putting on a party in the summer of 2020 because of Covid-19.

“We’re thinking of doing a Glastonbury this year David, you’ll have to come,” said Steve.

I said I’d be happy to bring my tent and pitch it on his lawn.

I said that because I was keen to get in the festival spirit, rather than showing how desperate I was for an invite.

Anyway, I didn’t think anything more of it until an invitation arrived in my email inbox over the summer inviting me to Steve and Joanne Parkin’s home for a black tie celebration on a Saturday evening in August followed by brunch the next day.

Like most guests, I immediately started to wonder who would be performing, given that I’d heard big names like Sir Tom Jones and Mick Hucknall had already performed at the Parkin parties.

That’s Steve Parkin’s parties

If you get an invitation to a David Parkin party, prepare yourself for Elvis and Frank Sinatra on CD, a Greggs pasty carefully sliced into canape-sized portions and a chilled half bottle of Hirondelle.

Harriet and I pushed the boat out and booked chauffeur Mr Bal to make sure we arrived in style at Steve’s beautiful home near Knaresborough.

Wearing black tie and shimmering cocktail dress (well, she says a dinner jacket and bow tie suit her) we stepped out of the car to photographers’ flashbulbs before being welcomed by Steve, Joanne and their family and making our way into the garden and a huge marquee complete with dancers, fire-breathers and acrobats.

I was able to congratulate Steve on his race horse Attagirl winning at York that afternoon.

We were served a glass of champagne and made our way to our table near the stage.

I turned around and looked back at the room, which was fitted out like the swankiest nightclub you have ever seen.

“I think we’ve got a decent table,” I whispered to Harriet, “Frankie Dettori’s on the table behind us and Gareth Southgate is on the one behind that.”

I chatted to the other guests on our table, asking one if he had arrived by car.

“No, we got a helicopter,” he told me.

I asked the chap next to him what he did for a living.

“I’m in the same sort of thing as Steve – transport, logistics.”

I asked him what his company was called.

He said: “Eddie Stobart.”

We sat down to an amazing dinner of seafood to start followed by perfectly cooked steak and chips, my favourite Saturday night meal.

Harriet said she was really impressed by the meal – and the handsome waiters serving it.

If I’d have known that I’d have had a closer look at the two young ladies performing on a pole above the cocktail bar.

A talented 10-piece French band performed before and during the meal.

I got the chance to do a bit of mingling, chatting to lawyer Guy Jackson, who used to be at Cobbetts but more recently in-house with Clipper Group.

Stuart Watson, ex-managing partner of EY in Yorkshire and a Clipper non-executive director, came over to say hello and it was great to see former High Sheriff of West Yorkshire Richard Jackson and Edward Ziff of Town Centre Securities.

William Derby, the chief executive of York Racecourse waved and came over.

I congratulated him on a hugely successful Ebor Festival which concluded that day.

After the two years of being first unable to hold race meetings and when they resumed, being unable to welcome spectators, he and his colleagues deserved that success.

He said to Harriet: “Do you know David was the first journalist I spoke to when I arrived at York and he wrote a very nice interview in the Yorkshire Post which I was grateful for and I’ve never forgotten.”

If I’d have known that, I’d have asked him for a few more free tickets.

After dinner Steve and his family came onto the dance floor in front of the stage and he made a very heartfelt speech about how lovely it was to welcome friends and family and for everyone to get together to celebrate after 18 challenging months.

He was 60 earlier this year and over the last year-and-a-half his children have missed the chance to celebrate significant milestones like 18th birthdays and becoming teenagers.

He said he hoped everyone would help them celebrate that evening and said they wanted someone special to perform on the evening.

“So please welcome, Sir Rod Stewart,” he said.

Rod, looking lithe and tanned, bounded onto the stage backed by seven blonde women singers and musicians in leopard-print mini-dresses and proceeded to belt out all his classic hits.

At one stage, he told the audience: “Phew, it’s about 15 months since I last performed live, I’m knackered! I’ll let the girls do this number.”

He leaned on his microphone and gulped a red wine before leaping into his next song.

What a night.

I went home at about 1.30am feeling totally uplifted.

The atmosphere at the event was warm, buzzing and so positive: a shot in the arm after a tough 18 months.

The following day we drove to Steve’s estate, had our car valet parked before enjoying a wonderful brunch in the marquee.

Steve and his family walked out onto the dance floor to thank everyone for joining them.

He invites many of his neighbours from the village to the brunch and an elderly chap on two walking sticks on our table leaned over and said: “I don’t know who he’s got performing today, but I did like Robbie Williams at the last one.”

One of Steve’s daughters stepped up to the microphone and said she wanted to thank her parents for a wonderful event and for all their support, which got a rousing cheer and round of applause from the audience.

Then Steve said that the aim had been to raise the bar with Sir Rod Stewart the night before.

“But we are going to raise the bar a bit higher now, please welcome…Sir Elton John.”

The pop legend walked out onto the stage, sat down at a Yamaha grand piano and launched into the first of a catalogue of smash hits.

I’ve heard people say Elton is not the singer he was, but I saw no evidence of that as he sang and played piano with no backing band or backing singers.

The power of his voice is quite stunning and his talent on the piano is perhaps under-estimated – he riffed a brilliant bit of boogie woogie on the ivories between songs

He also showed a real human touch when he thanked Steve and Joanne for the opportunity to perform.

“Lockdown has been tough for all of us,” he told the audience. “The positive for me is that I got to spend more time with my family and I have performed online with other artists.

“But I’ve missed performing live. What we have all missed is the chance to see our sporting heroes, our entertainment heroes, our music heroes, live and we hope that opportunity is now returning.”

Sir Elton seemed genuinely touched by the enthusiasm with which the small audience of around 300 people greeted each of his songs.

I don’t think any of us will get that close to seeing a major singing star performing again soon.

One thing I did notice is that Steve Parkin stood at the back of the audience during the performance and he clearly got as much, if not more, of a buzz from seeing the delight of the audience as he did from enjoying the dazzling performance of the man on the stage.

As Elton finished his set – which lasted over an hour – with the classic Crocodile Rock, I noticed Steve was standing on a chair clapping.

Knowing his guests had had an amazing experience, he was able to relax himself.

That’s the sign of an excellent host.

What an incredible weekend.

I said to Harriet in the car on the way home: “You better not get used to this.”

I’ve not mentioned to many people about attending the party but those I have told have either looked at me like I was making it up or asked: “Are you sure they weren’t tribute acts?”

They definitely weren’t.

I’d just pay tribute to Steve Parkin for being a generous host who clearly wanted his family and friends to enjoy a memorable and very special occasion.


I WROTE a blog earlier this year about an interview I’d done with Coronation Street actor Colson Smith about his passion for cricket.

The piece, which appeared in the Yorkshire Post, charted Colson’s time with his local cricket club, Castleford.

Starting out as a chubby schoolboy with limited talent but a great love for the sport, he hung around the club helping out and joining the team on trips to matches.

He’s now the club’s director of cricket and he and captain David Wainwright, the former Yorkshire and Derbyshire county cricketer, outlined their plans to try to navigate Castleford Cricket Club towards sustained success.

When we chatted in March they were talking of achieving their goals in terms of years.

Well just six months later I’m delighted to see things have happened a bit quicker than that.

Cas play in Yorkshire Premier League North and I’ve followed their progress on social media over the summer and noticed that they won a lot of matches and lost only rarely.

That has propelled the team to the Yorkshire Premier League Final tomorrow where they take on rivals Woodlands CC on the hallowed pitch at Headingley.

I said in the article for the YP that Colson, who is 22-years-old, has a maturity beyond his years and a thirst to learn as much as he can – whether that is in acting or running an amateur cricket club.

A Whatsapp arrived from Colson this week.

“Castleford CC in the biggest final in Yorkshire on Saturday…I’m putting it down to good press.”

I don’t like to take too much credit, but…


TALKING of Coronation Street, I saw that long-serving cobbles character Norris Cole died in the soap this week.

When I used to watch Britain’s oldest soap opera he was always one of my favourite characters.

Played by actor Malcolm Hebden, busy-body newsagent Norris Cole was worthy of joining the Corrie pantheon of characters who could play comedy and tragedy equally well such as Vera and Jack Duckworth, Hilda and Stan Ogden, Curly Watts and my all-time favourite, butcher Fred Elliott, I said Fred Elliott, purveyor of the finest blood sausage in Weatherfield.

That’s black pudding to you, missus.

Malcolm Hebden left Coronation Street last year after suffering a near fatal heart attack and has now decided to retire from acting, prompting soap bosses to kill off Norris.

There were plenty of panto-style moments featuring Norris and fellow character Mary Taylor, played by Patti Clare.

You could tell the soap’s writers really enjoyed writing for talented actors who could deliver wry and humorous lines so beautifully.

My favourite Norris quote is one he delivered while leaning on the bar of the Rover’s Return nursing a half a bitter.

“That lady from Rosamund Street was in today. She’s only got half a stomach, but very cheery on it.”

Have a great weekend.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top