Thursday, 13 February 2014

George Pickles the Ripon Hornblower

I have written about George Pickles before even done a YouTube of him.I didn't think George had been given enough recognisation for his dedication .An MBE perhaps, so when I tweeted this one day last year Gary Verity picked up on this and set out to make things right. This was the result. I just happened to be there.... The Ripon man in charge of maintaining the world’s longest ongoing tradition has been made a Yorkshire Patron. Ripon Hornblower George Pickles has been handed the honorary title – and famous Y badge – by tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire in recognition of his continued services to the county’s tourism. George said: “I’m delighted to have been recognised in this way and it’s a real honour to say I’m now a Yorkshire Patron. I think that over the years as the Ripon Hornblower I’ve welcomed more than 70,000 from all four corners of the world and with the Tour de France coming, I hope to welcome many more.”Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, handed him the honour in Ripon’s famous market square. He said: “Yorkshire is known the world over for our famous welcome and George encapsulates this. Not only does he offer visitors a warm welcome, but fulfils an important historical and now globally-famous role.” It is said the role of Hornblower is to safeguard the continuity of the ancient ceremony of 'Setting the Watch' which has been carried out every evening on the market square without a miss for around 1128 years. It is the longest ongoing unbroken daily ceremony in the world. It dates back to around 886 when Alfred the Great visited the City in the midst of the Vikings’ conquests. He was so impressed by the place and support he was given by the people against the intruders that he decided to grant the community a Royal Charter. As it was a spontaneous decision he did not have a parchment scroll or anything of that prepared. All he had to offer them as a symbol of the Charter was a horn. A Wakeman was also then appointed to sound the Horn at the four corners of the market cross at 9pm each evening to let the people know that the watch was set and they could retreat to their homes knowing the Wakeman would be awake and vigilant to any potentials intruders. For more information on the Hornblower and the role’s fascinating history see George’s website at