Dr Jill Adam, Harrogate International Festivals - My Yorkshire childhood

PUBLISHED: 18:35 29 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:40 20 February 2013

Dr Jill Adam with Haile Gebrselassiie after the Great Ethiopia Run in Addis Ababa. Haile is double-gold Olympic champion and celebrated long distance runner

Dr Jill Adam with Haile Gebrselassiie after the Great Ethiopia Run in Addis Ababa. Haile is double-gold Olympic champion and celebrated long distance runner

Dr Jill Adam, chairman of Harrogate International Festivals, tells us about her idyllic childhood in West Yorkshire

Keep your childhood memories coming in. They make fascinating reading. Just email the editor at esther.leach@yorkshirelife.co.uk to find out more and be ready to share some of your childhood photographs with us too.



The print version of this article appeared in the August 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life

We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here

All of my immediate family including my children are proudly Yorkshire. I was born in 1966 in Lindley, two miles outside of Huddersfield and just down the road from the Royal Infirmary, which was opened the following year by the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

My parents, both ardent cricket fans, had been keen to ensure that all three of their children had been born in Gods Great County, as much for the privilege as the right we would then carry to play cricket for the county, should we be so gifted. Alas, none of us were although my father (Sir Lawrence Byford) was president and chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 1991 and 2000.


Childhood in our family was both happy and nomadic both the result of my parents proper priorities and committed professional ambitions. My fathers evolving career in the police had demanded promotion-driven tours of the West Riding and when eventually his moves took us across the border to Lincolnshire and then he to London, our Yorkshire foothold high up in the Moors above Midgely became an increasingly significant part of my childhood.

Weekends were spent exploring that wild environment an area considered for the 1970s remake of Wuthering Heights evenings supporting the Halifax Dukes Speedway Team at the Shay Stadium and the absorption of local history from Piece Hall to the mill conversions then gradually starting to emerge across the local valleys.

Having left home at 17, I moved to West Yorkshire and had the great honour of being based at Wentworth Woodhouse for the first part of my teacher training degree. It was here that my combined love for sports, local history and the arts were really enabled to flourish.

I rowed and played squash and basketball competitively, I began a passionate interest in the history of that great house, its people, its industry, the village and its connections to the local and national economies and hierarchy, and I had access to one of the greatest emerging arts and music scenes of the 1980s Sheffield. Between 1983 and 1987 I saw at least one live performance a week, usually live music, but regularly interspersed by film, theatre and exhibitions.

Now as an adult, I live and work from North Yorkshire. My professional life takes me to far corners of the county, the North, the UK and at times the world, but wherever I have been I always enjoy the genuine sense of home-coming I get from Yorkshire. I also have the great pleasure and privilege of maintaining my passion and interest in the arts and music scene through my role as chairman of Harrogate International Festivals.

Like me, the festivals came to life in 1966 and like me it has developed since that time in a way that is overtly proud of its rich heritage. We certainly have an exciting journey ahead of us, not least as we both head to our golden jubilees in 2016.

Dr Jill Adam is executive director of Level Partnerships as well as chairman of Harrogate International Festivals. She is also a trustee of the Archbishop of Yorks Youth Trust and a school governor.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Yorkshire Life