Yorkshire’s Top 100: Public figures
We put the spotlight on the politicians, religious leaders, academics, civil servants and public leaders whose skill and expertise are recognised around the world. They come from all walks of life and together they embody the spirit of Yorkshire endeavour.
Nick Baines: Bishop of Leeds
Born in Liverpool, Nick Baines gained a degree in German and French at the University of Bradford and worked as a linguist at GCHQ for four years before training for ordination at Trinity College, Bristol. He became a deacon in 1987, and a priest a year later. He was named the first Bishop of Leeds in April 2014 following the dissolution of the dioceses of Bradford, Wakefield and Ripon and Leeds. The 57-year-old regularly appears on BBC Radio’s Pause for Thought.
Hilary Benn: Shadow Foreign Secretary
Hilary James Wedgwood Benn has been the Labour MP for Leeds Central since 1999 and has served as the Shadow Foreign Secretary since May this year, having been a member of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s cabinets. Son of the late Tony Benn, he appealed to Labour members to elect Andy Burnham as party leader rather than Jeremy Corbyn. However, following Corbyn’s win he retained his place in the shadow cabinet.
Dr Alan Billings: Police and crime commissioner
A former deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, he gained a doctorate by carrying out research that contributed to the controversial anti-Thatcherite report Faith in the City. He became South Yorkshire Police and crime commissioner a year ago, replacing Shaun Wright, who resigned following criticism relating to the fact he held a senior position in child services during the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal.
Peter Box: Chair, West Yorkshire Combined Authority
AS chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Peter Box has a key role to play in the process of securing devolved powers for the region from Westminster. He became leader of Wakefield Council in 1998, having been elected six years earlier. He was a probate and trust lawyer before retiring in 2005. In 2010 he was awarded a CBE for Services to Local Government.
Judith Blake: Leader, Leeds City Council
In May this year she became the first female leader of Leeds City Council in the authority’s 31-year history, taking over from Keith Wakefield. She inherited what her predecessor called “near-impossible” cuts to spending. By March 2016, Leeds will have received approximately £180m less in total core funding over the last five years – a drop of more than 40 per cent.
Sir Keith Burnett: Vice chancellor, Sheffield University
An eminent scientist, before moving to Sheffield, Professor Sir Keith Burnett was Head of the Division of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences at the University of Oxford.He received a CBE in 2004 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001. He was awarded a knighthood in the 2013 New Year’s honours list for services to science and higher education.
Mark Burns-Williamson: Police and crime commissioner
Elected to represent the ward of Castleford Central and Glasshoughton when he successfully contested the 1998 Wakefield Council elections for Labour, he subsequently became a member of West Yorkshire Police Authority in 1999. Awarded an OBE for services to the community and policing in the 2012 honours list, he was elected in the same year as the new West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner. He has been an outspoken critic of the Government’s austerity measures.
Michael Dugher: Vice chair, Labour Party
Born and raised in Edlington, South Yorkshire, prior to his election as MP for Barnsley East, he worked as chief political spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Under Ed Miliband he was Shadow Minister without Portfolio, a role where he could co-ordinate attacks on the government. Appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, he is vice chair of the Labour Party.
Kersten England: Chief executive, Bradford Council
England began her career teaching history at Manchester University and then worked in the voluntary sector before moving into local government, initially with Kirklees Council. She became director of policy and performance for Bradford Council, leading the recovery work after the riots. After working for Calderdale Council, she became chief executive at York in 2009 then returned to Bradford. A keen cyclist, she was part of the team who made the Yorkshire stage of the Tour de France a success.
Colin Graves: Chair, England and Wales Cricket Board
RAISED on a farm near Thorne, South Yorkshire, he is known for founding the Costcutter chain of convenience stores. A lifelong cricket fan, he was elected chairman of the ECB earlier this year and, despite England winning this summer’s Ashes series, he must breathe new life into a sport that has suffered from dwindling popularity, which some attribute to a lack of coverage on terrestrial television.
Chris Haskins: Life peer
Born in Dublin, the son of a farmer, Haskins joined Yorkshire-based Northern Dairies in 1962. The company became Northern Foods and he became a director in 1967, deputy chairman in 1974 and chairman from 1980 to 2002. The 78-year-old lives at a large farm in Skidby, East Yorkshire, and was ennobled as a life peer in 1998. In 2001 he became then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s “rural tsar” during the foot and mouth epidemic. Expelled from Labour for donating to the campaign of Lib Dem Danny Alexander, he now sits as a crossbencher.
Sir Jeremy Heywood: Cabinet Secretary
As Cabinet Secretary he is Britain’s most senior civil servant, having been appointed to the role in January 2012.. Educated at Bootham School in York, he studied at Oxford University. A trained economist, he worked as an adviser in the Treasury for almost a decade before being promoted to Downing Street by Tony Blair in 1999.
Sir Nick Houghton: Chief of the Defence Staff
Born in Otley, Houghton is the professional head of the British Armed Forces. Educated at Woodhouse Grove School in Bradford, he served in Northern Ireland for many years and was the Director of Military Operations in the Ministry of Defence at the time of 9/11 and at the outset of operations in Afghanistan.
Prof Margaret House: Vice chancellor, Leeds Trinity
Appointed vice chancellor at Leeds Trinity at the start of 2013, she is one of only a handful of women to make it to academia’s highest level. Previously deputy vice chancellor academic at Middlesex University, she was appointed dean of the school of social sciences in 2000 and dean of health and social sciences in 2002, before becoming the deputy vice chancellor academic in 2005.
Dan Jarvis: Barnsley Central MP
ELECTED as Labour MP for Barnsley Central in 2011, the former Army officer is considered one of the party’s rising stars. In the wake of the party’s general election defeat and Ed Miliband’s resignation, he was tipped as a leadership candidate. However, he announced he was not going to run, due to his young family.
Dave Jones: Chief Constable, North Yorkshire Police
Jones began his career with Greater Manchester police, initially working in Salford, and by 2002 had been promoted to Chief Superintendent. He became Assistant Chief Constable for the police service in Northern Ireland and in 2009 took over responsibility for the rural region. He was the unanimous choice of the recruitment panel to take over as Chief Constable of North Yorkshire in June 2013.
Prof Simon Kay: Surgeon
PROFESSOR SIMON Kay has been recognised for his plastic surgery work reconstructing damaged fingers, hands and limbs. In 2013 he hit the headlines when he carried out the UK’s first hand transplant on Yorkshire landlord Mark Cahill. Over the last 25 years his microsurgery work at Spire Hospital in Roundhay, Leeds and at the city’s two main hospitals, has seen him named one of the UK’s top 250 doctors by Tatler magazine.
Cluny Macpherson: Chief officer, Leeds City Council
AS chief officer for culture and sport at Leeds City Council, he is taking a lead role in trying to secure European Capital of Culture status for the city in 2023. He joined Leeds City Council after working as the regional director for Yorkshire of Arts Council England for 13 years. He has described the Capital of Culture bid as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” which would bring economic growth to Leeds.
Julia Mulligan: Police and crime commissioner
Born in Bradford, she grew up in North Yorkshire and became the county’s first Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012. One of only six female PCCs in the country, her biggest challenge is to address concerns about rural crime – which is estimated to equate to £200 for every household in the countryside – in the face of Government cuts to police budgets.
Jo Miller: Chief executive, Doncaster Council
Appointed in 2011, she has helped transform the authority from being dubbed the worst council in Britain in 2010 . She took over at Doncaster after a damning report into a council said to be stifled by dysfunction and division. A subsequent inspection said the “Team Doncaster” approach taken by Ms Miller was “widely acknowledged as an inspirational concept”.
Tom Riordan: Chief executive, Leeds City Council
The former boss of scrapped regional development agency Yorkshire Forward spent the first five years of his life in and out of care due to parental illness. Born and educated in North Yorkshire, he graduated from Trinity College, Oxford in 1989. In August 2010 he became the youngest chief executive in the history of Leeds City Council – the second largest metropolitan council outside London.
John Sentamu: Archbishop of York
Born near Kampala in Uganda on June 10, 1949, he studied law at Makerere University before working as an advocate of the Supreme Court of Uganda.He was imprisoned for speaking out against President Idi Amin and fled to the UK in 1974. In 1996 he was consecrated as the Bishop of Stepney and nine years later appointed Archbishop of York, the second most senior clerical position in the Church of England.
Sir Gary Verity: Chief executive, Welcome to Yorkshire
Born in Leeds and educated at Leeds Grammar School, he worked as managing director of Johnson Cleaners and at Bradford & Bingley. In 2009 he became chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the tourism body which promotes the county, securing the successful visit of the Tour de France in 2014 and launching the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race. In June this year he was awarded a knighthood.
Baroness Warsi: Life peer
A former chairwoman of the Conservative Party and the first Muslim to serve in the cabinet, she attended Birkdale High School, Dewsbury College and then Leeds University and the College of Law in York. The working class daughter of Pakistani immigrants, she was the first Muslim woman to be chosen as a Tory parliamentary candidate but failed in her bid to become Dewsbury MP in 2005, instead being given a peerage.
Alison White: Bishop of Hull
The Rev Canon Alison White was made the Bishop of Hull in July this year, becoming only the second woman bishop to be consecrated by the Church of England. She and her husband, Frank White, the Assistant Bishop of Newcastle, are the UK’s first husband and wife bishop partnership. They have been married for over 30 years.The 58-year-old became a priest in 1996 and has previously served in Peterborough, Durham, Sheffield and Newcastle.