Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine
The right Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley has been the Bishop of Ripon for four years. She was previously a bishop in New Zealand and was the first woman priest ordained in the Church of England to become one. Married to Myles Hartley, she is also an author, academic and enthusiastic runner.
What’s your first Yorkshire memory? Visiting my great-uncle and great-aunt in Doncaster when I was a child, probably about four or five years old. My recollection is that they lived in a house that wasn’t too far away from a huge green open space. I was named after my greataunt Helen, and she is buried in Bawtry, which is only just down the road, so I think that it is high time that I went over and paid my respects. That is very much on the to-do list for the New Year.
What’s your favourite part of the county – and why? This is a hard one, for part of the joy of my role is that I get to travel so much around the Yorkshire Dales, with all its glorious scenery. I love visiting places like Grassington and Reeth and all the surrounding areas. It is stunning and the resilience and commitment of the communities is inspiring, particularly in Reeth, after the disastrous flooding of 2019. I’m so pleased that Grassington is getting all that attention with the remake of All Creatures Great and Small, and long may that continue.
What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out and about in Yorkshire? It’s a trip over to Fountains Abbey, and preferably on a Sunday morning for a Parkrun, which would be followed by a flat white and a cheese scone and a natter with friends in the cafe afterwards. I used to loathe running at school, but I came to it about four years ago because I felt that I really had to challenge myself, and at first, yes, it was very hard going. But when I achieved my first 5K, well, I was so proud of myself that I felt as if I’d won an Olympic gold!
Do you have a favourite walk, or view? This will be a favourite run, if that’s OK, and it’s that Parkrun at Fountains, or indeed any run in the company of the club that I’m in, the fabulous Ripon Runners. I’m not quite sure what they made of me when they learned that they had a bishop in their midst, but they immediately made me feel very welcome. There was a rather strange moment when I was asked to bless a commemorative bench, put up in memory of a member of the Runners who had just died, and I turned up in full official clothes, instead of my running kit, which was far more familiar to them all.
Which Yorkshire sportsperson, past or present, would you like to take for lunch? May I take two? The amazing Brownlee boys, Jonny and Alistair, who I admire massively. I’ve never met them, but oh, how I should love to. I respect their determination, their resilience and the uncompromising way that they tackle all the challenges thrown at them.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner? Sir Patrick Stewart, who is an actor perfectly at home in Star Trek or Shakespeare and every genre in-between.
If you had to name your Yorkshire “hidden gem”, what would it be? St Michael & All Angels Church, in Hubberholme, a perfect medieval building, with a few later additions, right by the
River Wharfe. I learned that at one time the rector of the parish was also the landlord of the George, the pub just over the way, and he would always put a lighted candle in a front window so that anyone needing his help, counselling, or services, would know that he was in, and available. It’s a tradition that is carried on to this day, which is lovely. There’s lots of Mouseman furniture inside, and also a plaque to that great writer JB Priestley, whose ashes were scattered in the churchyard. Taking a service there is very special.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? It’s a blend of natural beauty and the independent spirit of the people. There’s also a sense of commitment and one of respect.
Do you follow sport in the county,
and if so, what? Watching cycling is one of my passions, as is the triathlon when it is one. I recently marshalled the Ironman event, and I was counting the competitors of the swimming section in and out at Ripon.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? Oliver’s Pantry, in Ripon. Lou and the team there are always so welcoming, friendly and warm, and they do great things for and with the community. Their spirit shone through during the lockdowns.
Do you have a favourite food shop? Minskip Farm Shop is top of the list, and Myles and I are always going over there – particularly for their eggs, which are the best in the world.
How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it? I honestly don’t feel that I’ve been here long enough for any opinion that I have on that matter to be taken seriously. So maybe ask me again in another ten years? Seriously, I will tell you one thing – the potholes in the roads in and around Ripon aren’t getting any better.
Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire? When I became Bishop of Ripon, one of the very first visits that I did was to see the work of the Jennyruth Workshops which were started by Barrie and Sue Evanson. This charity does amazing work training adults who have learning difficulties in a wide variety of skills. They are local people, achieving great things, and my admiration for them knows no bounds.
Has Yorkshire influenced your work, and if so, how? Most assuredly yes, it has. It has shaped me since I moved here, and continues to shape and challenge me in so many ways, and I am very grateful for that.
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/ performer.? A brilliant book by Harrogate-based author Rob Cowen. It’s called Common Ground, and I return to it time and time again, as it reminds me of the raw power of the earth and our part in caring for it and being responsible for it.
If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be? Fountains Abbey, which not only has a natural beauty but is somewhere you can also find profound spirituality. A combination of awe, divine inspiration and a sense of history and place.