Favourite Things: Mike Wilkinson

Mike Wilkinson
Mike Wilkinson

Mike is a former Head of Marketing and Development with Scarborough Council. He has a tourism marketing consultancy, promoting the Yorkshire coast, and is on the Yorkshire Coast Tourism Advisory Board and the Yorkshire Coast BID Task Group. He is a former president, and still a member of, the Rotary Club of Scarborough Cavaliers. He is married to Michelle and has two daughters – Helen and Ashley – and a son, Bradley, and a 17-month old granddaughter, Eliza.

It’s almost 20 years to the day since I came North from Bristol in 1998 to take the job of Head of Marketing and Development with Scarborough Borough Council. As I was born in Beverley I clearly knew the Yorkshire Coast very well, having holidayed in Bridlington as a child, with fond memories of walking around the harbour with my parents and eating

Dragon Boat racing on Wykeham Lakes - this year's event is on June 10.

Dragon Boat racing on Wykeham Lakes - this year's event is on June 10.

Notarianni ice cream.

So to take the role of promoting the Yorkshire Coast tourism offer was a dream come true – with its 45 miles of heritage coastline from Filey to Saltburn-by-the-Sea; the North York Moors National Park; a superb arts and cultural scene; Yorkshire’s finest fare and not forgetting the warm, friendly welcome visitors receive, it was not too hard a task to market this product to potential visitors.

Now having retired from my missionary work as Chief Executive of the Lancashire & Blackpool Tourist Board – a position I held from 2004 to 2012 – I really enjoy being back at this side of the Pennines and the great outdoors. I suppose my favourite view is looking North from the Raven Hall Hotel to Robin’s Hood Bay, and the walk from Boggle Hole youth hostel to the Bay is scenically stunning.

You can either walk along the beach if the tide is out or take in the spectacular cliff views from the Cleveland Way

Whitby and its abbey.

Whitby and its abbey.

national trail. A visit to the Laurel Inn is a must with a pint of Old Peculiar to

refresh the parts for the

return trip.

Whitby takes a lot of beating, in my view, and ever since the replica of Captain James Cook’s ship Endeavour visited the port in 1997, the

Mike and some of the family in the Lake District.

Mike and some of the family in the Lake District.

resort has reinvented itself as a fantastic heritage

destination. Whether it is the Cook connection, Dracula, the town’s ecclesiastical history and its inspiring

abbey or its quaint townscape that attracts you, it certainly is a real gem, and this year Whitby will be celebrating Cook’s 250th anniversary of his voyage to Australia in 1768 with a festival in early July. Its association with the North York Moors via the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a big asset, especially Goathland with Yorkshire TV’s Heartbeat filmed there and the station’s Harry Potter movie reference.

The era of steam definitely draws in the crowds and takes me back to my childhood as a train spotter.

Mike and wife Michelle at Goathland station.

Mike and wife Michelle at Goathland station.

Another of my favourite pastimes is the theatre and Scarborough is so fortunate to have a producing

theatre with the quality of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round. I sit as a board member on the Scarborough Theatre Trust and it

never fails to amaze me how lucky we are to have Sir Alan Ayckbourn as our own international playwright and director. This summer there will be a world premiere of his 82nd play Better off Dead and a revival of Joking Apart.

Similarly, The Crescent in Scarborough with its impressive Georgian terraced buildings, housing the Scarborough Art Gallery, a Buddhist wellbeing centre in Londesborough Lodge – my former office, now run by the Rokpa Trust – and the Woodend Creative Industries Centre, in the former home of the Sitwell family.

As a member of the Rotary Club of Scarborough Cavaliers I have to draw readers’ attention to the club’s annual dragon boat racing on Wykeham Lakes, which takes place this year on Sunday June 10 and raises funds for local charities. Apart from the serious side of fundraising, the lakes are a beautiful leisure asset for the area, and the North Yorkshire Water Park has returned for the new tourist season there.

As a former leisure services officer with the borough council it has been tremendous to witness the return of the local football club, Scarborough Athletic, playing again in the town at a purpose-built stadium, and as an exponent of walking football to play for the Barons Fitness Centre in an exhibition game at the official opening of the new ground was a real

delight for me.

If you’re interested in featuring your Favourite Things, about our fabulous area, please email

steve.bambridge@jpress.co.uk – you can take part individually, or as a couple/family, or a group or

club.