Piece Hall Trust CEO Nicky Chance-Thompson on what makes Yorkshire and Calderdale great

Piece Hall Trust CEO Nicky Chance-Thompson
Piece Hall Trust CEO Nicky Chance-Thompson

Nicky Chance-Thompson is the CEO of The Piece Hall Trust, set up to run the multi award-winning Piece Hall in Halifax which re-opened in 2017

She is married to the current Mayor of Calderdale, Marcus Thompson, and is the great, great grand-niece of the Yorkshire composer Delius.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

My first memory is seeing The Piece Hall in Halifax when I first moved up. I was captivated with this magnificent building as soon as I encountered it. You just don’t expect it and it takes your breath away. All I ever hear from people is the word ‘wow’ when they first set foot in it. There are old family ties here too as its likely my Bradford wool cloth merchant family traded cloth here! Set in this magical town with the glorious Yorkshire countryside surrounding it I can’t quite believe how fortunate I am to live and work in such an inspired setting.

What’s your favourite part of the county and why?

I love Calderdale and its mix of interesting and dynamic market towns, but I also love Scarborough.The seaside town has real meaning to our family in that my husband had many happy childhood holidays there, it’s also where past family and pets had their ashes scattered and where Marcus proposed to me. Nothing beats walking along the beach and then sharing some big portions of fish and chips with the dogs. I like the simple things.

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire?

I really love having my family up to see me from the South and spending time with them. Family time is so precious. We also enjoy staying with my sister-in-law Rachel in Scarborough and walking the dogs along the beach followed by a good lunch or dinner. I love visiting the historic and magical Howarth and having some ‘me’ time in Bolton Abbey.

Do you have a favourite walk, or view? Apart from Scarborough beach, my favourite walk has to be Castle Crag as it’s so rugged and gloriously Yorkshire and like a scene from a Bronte novel. The view from Ainley Top into Halifax as you leave the M62 has to be one of the best views in the world.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take for lunch, and why?

Without a doubt, Dame Diana Rigg. I just loved her as Mrs Emma Peel in The Avengers and aspired to be her in my 20s. I just find her fascinating and ultimately cool and stylish. Just to hang out with her would be a dream.

If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what or where would it be? Robin Hoods Bay. What a magical place that is. A town cut into rock leading down into the sea. Jaw droppingly beautiful.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

It’s the landscape and its people. Everything I look at feels like it has a John Barry backtrack playing to it. It’s just glorious.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub?

The Moorcock Inn, Ricci’s Place, Holdsworth House, or Gimbals for food. I cannot set them apart honestly. I also need to shamelessly plug (because they deserve it) Elder in the Piece Hall with former Friends of Ham Head Chef Justin Thomas and our own newly opened Trust restaurant The Trading Rooms which are run by the fiercely talented Jason Wardill and Simon Dyson.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Without a shadow of a doubt ‘Czerwik’ a great cheese and drink shop in Brighouse fabulous shop.

Do you ever find yourself ‘selling’ Yorkshire to others?

Only to Londoners. But those who know – know. Gods own County sells itself.

Who is the Yorkshire man or woman you most admire, and why?

He will kill me for saying this but my chairman Roger Marsh. In his role as Leeds City Region LEP Chair he has done so much for Yorkshire. Very recently, he was part of a team which persuaded Channel Four that Leeds was the best place to have an extended HQ and prior to that he persuaded Burberry to have their HQ there too. He does so much for so many people and he and his lovely wife Sally are two of the best people I know. I have learned a lot about leadership and business from Roger in this last year.

How has Yorkshire influenced your work?

I changed career path since I moved to Yorkshire. I never thought in a million years I would get to run the building I love most in the world. In a nutshell, Yorkshire has helped me to slow down and enjoy life. It’s taught me to have more humour and to appreciate what’s around me. It has influenced my work in that it has made me more resilient and kinder.

Name your favourite Yorkshire author/artist/performer?

Robert Palmer. What a phenomenal musician and man and wrote one of the most beautiful songs ever written ‘She makes my day’ which he composed about his daughter. He was one of life’s good people. Talented and kind.

What are you working on at the moment?

We have an amazing sculpture here this month created by the talented artist David Murphy and we’ve got a great programme lined up throughout the year.