It’s been a busy month & one for celebration
World of James Herriot celebrates 20 years, wins the VisitYork Tourism Award for Visitor Attraction of the Year 2019 and Channel 5 TV announces remake of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ drama series.
June’s been a busy month for the World of James Herriot in Thirsk as it celebrated its 20th Anniversary on Saturday 22nd June and then on Thursday 20th June also bagged the Visitor Attraction of the Year Award (under 50,000 visitors) at the prestigious VisitYork Tourism Awards 2019. Whilst the celebrations continued, Channel 5 TV announced plans to revive the television drama All Creatures Great and Small.
A celebration event was held on Saturday 22nd June 2019 at the World of James Herriot with guests including the attraction’s first ever visitor, many volunteers, management and staff, the vet and author’s daughter and son, members of Hambleton District Council, Chanel 5 TV’s the Yorkshire Vet plus many other supporters of the venture.
Cllr. Mark Robson, Leader of Hambleton District Council and World of James Herriot managing director Ian Ashton unveiled a new brass plaque to mark the anniversary and to recognise the important part played by Honorary Alderman Councillor June Imeson OBE, retired former Hambleton District Council Leader, in the creation of the attraction in 1999.
Cllr. Robson remarked at the celebration event: “The marketing of the attraction since Ian Ashton took over has achieved a continuing rise in visitor numbers and thanks to Ian and his team, the World of James Herriot is the major contributor to the Thirsk visitor economy.”
Jim Wight, the vet and author’s son gave a humorous and moving account of the real story of the time the surgery was his home and also a vote of thanks to everyone involved in making it become what it is today.
Peter Wright, one of the Chanel 5 TV Yorkshire Vets who worked with Alf Wight and Jim Wight remembered the day the practice moved to new premises. He presented to Ian Ashton a bust of Donald Sinclair (aka Siegfried Farnon in the stories) that had moved with them and said its rightful place is back at 23 Kirkgate.
The conclusion to the evening was the unveiling of the Yorkshire Vet Room within the centre during which Paul Stead; managing director of Leeds-based Daisybeck Productions and producer of the Yorkshire Vet TV series explained how Ian Ashton helped him to persuade Peter Wright and colleagues to take part in the programme. Paul said: “In thanking Ian, it is of course thanks to Alf Wight, the original Yorkshire Vet in whose footsteps we wanted to follow in bringing the modern version of a Yorkshire veterinary practice to the screen. It all fits perfectly with the James Herriot heritage.”
The VisitYork award announced on Thursday 20th June 2019, Best Visitor Attraction Award (under 50,000 visitors) recognises the positive contribution that World of James Herriot has made to tourism in York and North Yorkshire and its continuing efforts to deliver new and innovative experiences to its guests.
“This is a timely accolade for us in our 20th anniversary week and completes the set as we have also previously received the Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Awards and VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. To know that the people who visit the World of James Herriot recognise and appreciate the experience that the team here deliver is second to none. We have a great team of committed staff and loyal volunteers and these awards help to make all of their efforts worthwhile,” comments World of James Herriot’s managing director, Ian Ashton.
The attraction is open every day except Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Boxing Day and attracts many coach groups, families and a large following of James Herriot fans. It is enjoying much new attention due to the Channel 5 Yorkshire Vet TV series about the present day version of the very same veterinary practice that James Herriot made famous with his books, films and BBC TV series about his life as a country vet in what is now known worldwide as ‘Herriot Country’.
Now, Channel 5 has announced the return of All Creatures Great and Small, the TV series. Based on the real-life adventures of the Yorkshire vet James Herriot, it originally ran on BBC1 from 1978 to 1990, and is now being given a fresh interpretation by Channel 5. The production has not yet announced the casting for the lead role. Christopher Timothy played Herriot in the original series, which also starred Robert Hardy, Peter Davison, Lynda Bellingham and Carol Drinkwater. At its peak, All Creatures Great and Small pulled in audiences of more than 13 million.
The new series will be created by Playground, the production company behind the hit dramas Howards End and Wolf Hall, with a promise to remain faithful to the books of Alf Wight, James Herriot’s real name.
Ian Ashton added: “The Channel 5 announcement is cream on top of our cake and everyone involved at the World of James Herriot and Herriot Country Tourism group is so pleased to hear this news. The benefits to Thirsk and North Yorkshire will be immense”.