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In Bloom

Britain in Bloom Finalists 2012

Matthew Blair

By the time you read this the Olympics will be well and truly under way, and although it’s taking place in the city of my birth, I am more than happy to give my support courtesy of the BBC. I’ve been hearing some unsettling stories of ticket allocation. Apparently people are being sent out seemingly random replies to their requests to support their favourite sports. I mean, if you’re a boxing fan, you’re not going to be best pleased to be expected to enjoy a couple of games of ping-pong are you, or if you’re a sailor, dressage? Now I love horses and have a great deal of admiration for the patience and skill that goes into training the animals – but PLEASE!

When I think of the Games, the Blue Riband events for me are the athletics, and even some of the competitors’ families can’t get tickets for that! So who will fill the wondrous new Athletic Stadium?  Logic tells me that it will be chock a block with rather disgruntled followers of synchronised swimming and beach volleyball unless some fairly rapid swapsies can be arranged.  You may be wondering what that has to do with my victim this month. Absolutely nothing really – I just wanted to get it off my chest. Now down to business.

Matthew Blair is our most recent advertiser, and when he opened the door to me I was struck by two things. The first was his youthful appearance and the second was the uncanny resemblance he bears to one of my grandsons.  Matthew is actually twenty-three years old, but is so used to being mistaken for someone younger that he produces ID almost before it’s requested. He has lived in the village all his life, and was educated at our School before going on to Driffield.

On leaving, he was offered an apprenticeship to become an electrician by Ken Macklin in Leven and at the end of his four years Mr Macklin sold his business and took retirement. Matthew had become a very popular member of staff, and had become well known in the Hull area, which is where most of their work was based. The idea was forming to become self-employed, so he took a job in Hornsea for six months while the preparations for him to go it alone were finalised. A brave move at such a tender age, but Matthew has a charmingly old-fashioned work ethic and didn’t seem to think it unusual. He says there is work out there if you look for it, and his appointment diary is

testament to that.

He doesn’t believe in all work and no play though, and during the football season can be found on the right wing for his team, Little Driffield, which, with true entrepreneurial spirit, his Company also sponsors. Matthew took on a massive challenge at the end of April when he was talked into entering an event known as The Woldsman by one of his friends. This is a fifty mile walk/run, organised by The Long Distance Walkers Association, which sets off from the Driffield Showground, encompasses Danes’ Graves, Sledmere, Wharram Percy, Thixendale, Givendale, Huggate Wold Top, Wetwang and Garton, finally finishing where it started.

Thirteen hours and sixteen minutes was a creditable time in the extremely cold and wet conditions, particularly considering that his training had consisted of two five mile runs! He admits to wondering, once or twice, whether he would complete the course but Matthew is a great believer in mind over matter and was determined not to be beaten. At one time he found himself on the Tops near Wharram Percy, where he ran alone (map in hand as there are no marshals to guide you) facing a fierce north easterly wind, but with a skylark for company. I suppose it’s memories of moments like that which have convinced him to enter again next year. Being unable to walk the next day and understanding what it must feel like to be ‘kneecapped’ is obviously not a big enough deterrent. Good on him.

Reliable tradespeople like Matthew are often difficult to locate when you need them most – and show me one person who doesn’t rely on their electrics to be in good order. I just about go into meltdown if we have a power cut, it’s only then that I realise how much my life is driven by it. So it’s reassuring to know that we have such an ambitious young man in our midst, and I’m left hoping that Jack, my grandson, not only keeps Matthew’s looks but also shares some of his initiative.