THREE months into his year as High Sheriff of West Yorkshire and Richard Jackson MBE admits he is busier than ever.
As well as his voluntary role hosting High Court judges and welcoming royalty to the county, he is continuing his business projects.
Richard’s Yorkshire Ventures business acquired the Raithwaite Hotel in Sandsend, near Whitby, out of adminstration and has embarked on an ambitious scheme to develop a luxury resort boasting not just a hotel and other accommodation in the Keep, Lake House and cottages but also 190 self-catering properties and an iconic sea view restaurant.
After a long wait, earlier this month plans for the project were approved by Scarborough Borough Council.
And that, says Richard, will mean a massive boost for the Yorkshire coast, creating plenty of jobs well as generating millions into the local economy.
He said: “I would like to thank the councillors and officers of Scarborough Borough Council for their support of the development of the upmarket, ‘Raithwaite Bay Resort’, between Sandsend and Whitby.
“Working closely with my colleagues and professional consultants, we have created an opportunity to meet the authority’s ambitions for enhancing tourism in the area.
“Our consent will achieve that objective by creating 450 permanent year round jobs as well as generating in the order of £7m to £8m into the local economy. This, most importantly, is a real win for the families and their children in the local community by securing employment for many generations to come.”
I got a chance to experience the Raithwaite Estate yesterday evening when Welcome to Yorkshire held its latest Y30 dinner for its corporate supporters.
With the sun shining I drove across the Yorkshire Moors with the Beach Boys playing on Yorkshire Coast Radio and the wind in my hair.
Ok, shut it.
Arriving at the Raithwaite Estate, it is in a beautiful setting with lush gardens and it positively shimmered in the summer evening sunlight.
Canapés before dinner included mini ice cream cones of Whitby crab and the meal of pigeon followed by stone bass was served by attentive, well trained staff.
One thing the Yorkshire coast lacks is really high quality hotels and so the Raithwaite Estate has been a welcome addition to this part of the world.
I caught up with Richard Jackson again this week when as High Sheriff of West Yorkshire, he and wife Elaine hosted a summer drinks party at The Hepworth in Wakefield.
The gallery, which boasts probably the finest collection of works by Yorkshire-born artists and sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, is housed in a modern building designed by architect David Chipperfield.
Add in temporary exhibitions of photographs and paintings and it is no wonder the gallery has attracted so many visitors.
Three months into his year as High Sheriff, Richard gave guests at the party an update on his activities.
I doubt he is going to have many spare evenings free to watch the telly over the rest of his term in office.
Also at the event was insurance entrepreneur Paul Lawrence, a former Chief Barker of Variety, The Children’s Charity and the next High Sheriff of West Yorkshire.
We were joined by Edward Ziff, chairman and chief executive of Leeds-based property business Town Centre Securities.
Both told me they enjoyed reading this blog – and I don’t think it was just because they wanted a mention.
Edward said that he chooses to keep the blog to read on a Friday “at a point in the day when I need a bit of a filip”.
I took this as a great compliment until it dawned on me that this heaps the pressure on to produce something sparkling week in week out.
Consistency has always been over-rated.
During his speech, Richard told guests that they may notice that no red wine was being served at the summer party.
“Only translucent drinks, to protect the exhibits.” he said.
“Mind you, I have to tell you that it was only after I submitted my guest list with all of your names on that they informed me of this!”
SOME people call mental illness a “modern disease”.
But you don’t have to be a historian to realise that it is a disease that is as old as humanity.
The only thing modern about this crippling illness with symptoms that are often undetectable is a growing acceptance and understanding among wider society.
There is certainly more sympathy towards those who suffer with mental illness and less of a “get a grip” response to those suffering with depression.
Until a few years ago I admit my understanding of mental illness was very limited as was sympathy for those suffering with it.
It was only when a member of the team at TheBusinessDesk.com was struggling with depression that I learned more and my attitude completely changed.
Phil Birkhead was a bright, funny, good looking young man with a natural talent for sales and a charm that brought plenty of female admirers.
But he had suffered for much of his life with depression and he once explained to me that at its worst it could be so bad that it would make you feel that killing yourself was the only way to relieve the pain and anguish.
He took two extended periods of leave from work and we tried to give him as much support as possible.
He eventually moved on to a number of new roles and we kept in touch on an infrequent basis.
Phil once told me that depression was something he was having to learn to live with.
But it eventually became too much and he took his own life.
Those of us who knew him attempted to console ourselves with the hope that he had got a release from his illness that he couldn’t find in life.
I perhaps naively hoped that would be the first and last experience I had of someone I knew committing suicide.
This week I went to the funeral of another friend and former colleague who took their own life.
Kim Lee-Black was 32 and also worked with us at TheBusinessDesk.com some years ago.
She had a great sense of humour and gave better than she got earning herself a variety of nicknames including Kimbo Slice (after a brawling bare knuckle street fighter) and Kim Jong Un – because facing the North Korean dictator was preferable to a shower of invective from Kim.
She appeared to have a maturity beyond her years and it was perhaps this that disguised to her friends how she was coping with a long-running battle with depression.
If anything exposes the hollowness of social media, it was that her recent posts involved photos of holidays, working abroad and time spent with friends and family.
Her death was in the same week that both fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took their own lives.
Fame, success and wealth are no protection against such an illness.
Kim’s troubles were clearly deep and many. For those of us left behind the only question is: Why?
But that is one question there won’t be an answer to.
So the only thing to do is cherish the good memories of her and try to make sure that we can try and be there for anyone else suffering from the cruel, indiscriminate blight of mental illness.
Cheers and farewell Kim, you crazy, lovely, gorgeous girl.
HOW do follow that with something lighthearted?
Well Kim would have laughed at my experience the other week.
I was at a race day at Doncaster hosted by her great friends Zoe and Nathan Lane of Campfire PR.
Also there was Robin Hilton of Researchbods with his nine-year-old son.
He introduced me to his lad with the words: “Sam, this is David, he has been to Hollywood and interviewed someone very famous.
“Do you know who Arnold Schwarzenegger is?”
His son looked back blankly and shook his head.
“Oh dear, you won’t be able to tell him your Arnie story David,” said his father to me.
Why rob the lad of a valuable life experience?
So I told him anyway.
Have a great weekend.