In The Hotseat with Lord Shipley

Former Newcastle councillor, Lord John Shipley, was born and raised in Whitby and is In The Hotseat.

Although he hasn’t lived in the town since his youth, Lord Shipley still feels a close connection to it.

He was presented with a peerage last year for his work in Newcastle City Council, where he had been a Liberal and Liberal Democrat councillor for 34 years.

Following the collection of his OBE, Lord Shipley stepped down and is looking forward to supporting manufacturing in the North East.

He attended the Mount School in Khyber Pass as a child before moving on to Whitby Grammar School.

1 What are your first memories of Whitby?

Aged four in 1950, with my mother and ration book, walking through Pannett Park to buy a lollipop at Mr Hebron’s sweetshop in Flowergate.

I chose a red one from a big jar.

2 What makes Whitby special to you?

Its architecture – brutalist planning and high-rise blocks were never allowed to reach Whitby.

I remember the Alec Clifton-Taylor television series on English towns some 30 years ago which devoted a 30-minute programme to Whitby’s architecture.

I’d grown up accepting Whitby’s buildings for what they were.

That programme made me see them in a new light.

3 What has been the highlight of your life so far?

Getting married to Margaret, watching our kids grow up and seeing Whitby Town at Wembley in 1965.

I made a blue and white top hat and still have my football rattle!

And then of course going into the House of Lords.

4 What is your biggest regret?

Not having enough time to do all the things I’d like to.

5 What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Porridge and fresh fruit salad.

I’m told porridge is good for my blood pressure and the fruit salad gets me off to a good start with my ‘five a day’!

6 What is your favourite eating place

In Whitby, it’s Green’s on Bridge Street.

North Yorkshire has many excellent places though.

We try to get to Helmsley at least once a year for the weekend and like The Inn at Hawnby very much where the cooking is excellent.

7 What is your favourite pub?

When younger, it was always the Golden Lion.

8 Where are the best fish and chips?

The Magpie Cafe but in truth there are several marvellous fish and chip shops and cafes in Whitby.

I’ve never been disappointed.

9 What is your worst habit?

Back seat driving – too often from the front passenger seat as my wife would tell you!.

10 Where was your last holiday?

Turkey – visiting Gallipoli, Ephesus, Pergamon and Troy.

We try to get away to Siena in Italy once a year for a week (we belong to the Holiday Property Bond and their hamlet at Stigliano south of Siena is a gem) and then go somewhere else for another week.

This year it’s Greece – Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Corinth, Epidaurus and Mycenae.

11 When was the last time you cried?

Very recently when my younger sister Liz died.

Losing her brought back so many childhood memories.

12 What would be your ideal day in Whitby?

A walk along the West Cliff or along the beach followed by a climb up the 199 steps.

A fish and chip lunch somewhere around the harbour.

Then to Botham’s in Skinner Street for a variety of treats to take home – sausages, a pork pie or two (or three) and a selection of scones and cakes – some for the freezer.

And we’d drop in to The Whitby Catch to buy some fresh fish.

13 What was your first job?

Brand management at Procter and Gamble in Newcastle working on toiletries brands such as Crest Toothpaste.

It taught me a lot about the importance of having a quality product to sell and how to market it effectively.

It’s useful in any walk of life.

14 What is your favourite film?

Either Gettysburg or Amadeus.

I studied military history for part of my degree.

Gettysburg is the most remarkable reconstruction of the days leading up to the battle and the battle itself.

I love classical music and Amadeus.

The film about Mozart, is an extraordinary achievement.

It’s mostly filmed in Prague, a city we’ve visited many times.

For a Whitby connection, I’d say Genevieve.

It’s a very funny film from the 1950s.

We went to the cinema frequently in those days and I was a regular at The Empire and The Coliseum – and the Waterloo too occasionally!

15 What is your favourite book?

An atlas of the world – imagining all the places I’ll never visit

16 If you won the Lottery, what would you do with the money?

Donate it to good causes – housing charities, youth enterprise projects and promoting live music.

17 Dracula or Captain Cook?

Captain Cook for his endeavour, his resolution, his spirit of adventure and his desire for discovery.

His achievements are astonishing.

18 What is your signature dish?

Steak and kidney pie – there’s nothing to beat it.

19 What is your favourite drink?

Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic.

I can still remember my first glass, beautifully cold, in Prague in 1972.

20 What would be your epitaph?

It was time he got a rest.