My Yorkshire: Robin Tuddenham, chief executive of Calderdale Council, on his favourite people and places
Robin Tuddenham is chief executive of Calderdale Council. He moved to Yorkshire in 2010, and has led the redevelopment of the Piece Hall and new Central Library in Halifax. He lives in Todmorden with his wife, Claire.
What’s your first Yorkshire memory?
As a visitor to the area as a child it would be a trip to York, walking the streets and visiting the Minster. Growing up in Norwich, the similar sense of history and mediaeval magnificence made it feel curiously like home.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why?
The Calder Valley, where I live. There is something about the light and darkness that resonates with me. The moors on a spring evening out running through the National Trust woodland of Hardcastle Crags to Widdop is simply awe inspiring. Full of wildlife, water and colour.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire?
I think my perfect weekend would be a Friday and Saturday evening spent at Thorpe Hall in Fylingthorpe near Robin Hood’s Bay. A run along the coastal path onto Whitby, followed by a trip to Staithes. Then Sunday morning back to Calderdale dropping by the Piece Hall for a V60 drip coffee in Loafers, buy some vinyl, ending with a trip to Hebden Bridge Picture House to watch a film with a mug of tea. Wonderful!
Do you have a favourite walk, or view?
There are so many outstanding ones, but the view early morning as the sun rises over Stoodley Pike in Todmorden is hard to beat. I live on the hilltops and my early morning run involves a climb to Sourhall with the South Pennines laid out before me. On a cold winter morning, the sunrise is hard to beat.
Which Yorkshire sports star would you like to take for lunch, and why?
Can I have two? It would have to be the Brownlee brothers. Alastair and Jonathan epitomise what is great about sport. Hard work, passion and rooted in where they come from. Whilst beating the world at triathlon, they both grew up running fell races in the hills around Haworth, as I have a lot slower! It’s a modest sport where you can be on the start line with some of the best in the world and be out there getting muddy in the hills.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?
My grandfather who lived all his life in Norfolk used to go to Yorkshire for his holiday every year. He was genuinely bemused when people asked why he would want to go anywhere else. His passion for the county enthused me. All life is here, coast and country, thriving cities and market towns. Open space and heritage packed places to visit.
How do you immerse yourself in Yorkshire’s cultural life?
Culture and arts are an important part of my life. I grew up in a musical household. My dad was in a band that supported Pink Floyd, Queen and others. I love all forms of music. From going to see Opera North to a local gig in a bar like Grayston Unity in Halifax, the smallest venue in the country with great beer too. We also have thriving locations for theatre and art. Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield and Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax are personal favourites.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub?
Yorkshire is an outstanding place to eat as recent accolades show. As a bit of a foodie, I can be choosy! My current favourite is Ricci’s Tapas at Dean Clough in Halifax, it’s always buzzing and vibrant. Best tapas I have had outside Spain.
How has Yorkshire influenced your work?
Moving to Yorkshire in 2010 and taking on the redevelopment of the Piece Hall has changed my life. I joke sometimes that this awesome and unique building feels like a part of me. The project has taught me about vision, persistence and care, as well as understanding that the hardest things to do are usually the most worthwhile.
Who is your favourite Yorkshire author/artist/performer?
It is hard to say just one, but I’m going for Emily Brontë. I read Wuthering Heights when I was 16, and it blew me away. You can feel, smell and sense the environment the Brontës grew up in so much that when I went to Haworth in my early 20s I thought I had already been there.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what or where would it be?
There are so many special places on the many paths, trails and bridleways to walk and run along in the Calder Valley. A special one for me is Lumb Falls, a spot for wild swimming, if that’s your thing, and on the route of Hebden 22, a wonderful (and always sold out!) Long Distance Walking Association event that takes place every year in freezing January. It’s very evocative of real Ted Hughes country, a place of peace and reflection.
What are you working on at the moment?
I took up the post of Chief Executive in June 2017. The first few months have been a whirlwind of openings, the Piece Hall, Square Chapel, and the new Central Library. There is more to follow with the Leeds Beckett University Business Centre opening next to the Piece Hall in 2018. I see my task as making sure this is a catalyst for new opportunities, investment and focus across the whole of Calderdale.