The Alf Wight 100th Anniversary gala dinner has been a fabulous centenary anniversary evening and it’s especially pleasing that the evening brought together so many family, friends, fans and colleagues of Alf Wight, some of whom travelled thousands of miles for this once in a lifetime event. It’s been a fantastic tribute to a very special man. It has been a real treat have all the main cast of All Creatures Great and Small together on this wonderful occasion and will likely never happen again. Alf’s books, films and TV series are THE biggest thing to ever have happened to promote the Dales and Moors of North Yorkshire which have become world renowned as ‘Herriot Country’.”
Lesley Garrett OBE sang over several sessions during the evening and included songs that she had chosen especially for the occasion that were fitting for the occasion including ‘Summertime’ which Lesley dedicated especially to Alf Wight’s memory.
A fund-raising auction held during the evening raised almost £3,000 for the James Herriot Foundation Trust that that has been established to help young people who wish to pursue a career dedicated to animal welfare. The Foundation Trust began with a very generous bequest made to Friends of World of James Herriot by the late, life member Thomas Frank Blinks who lived in Robertsbridge, East Sussex. A bronze statue of Alf Wight stands in the gardens of World of James Herriot, marking the establishment of the Foundation Trust.
Hambleton District Council originally set up World of James Herriot in 1999 and handed operational control to a private company under Ian Ashton’s management in 2012 whilst retaining ownership of the building. Council Leader, Mark Robson announced at the dinner the proposal to transfer the building to the company as a community asset transfer subject to full council approval.
Jim Wight and Rosie Page, son and daughter of Alf Wight, speaking about the gala evening said: “This has been a lovely opportunity to celebrate our father’s legacy and to support James Herriot Foundation Trust that has been established to help young people who wish to pursue a career dedicated to animal welfare, which our father would have been proud to be associated. We are delighted that so many of the original cast members could attend the dinner and so pleased to that it was supported by so many friends, fans and colleagues for the tribute to his life and work.”
Christopher Timothy who played James Herriot in the TV series concluded the evening with a witty and thoughtful address, thanking in particular Alf Wight’s family, Ian Ashton, managing director of World of James Herriot for his continuing enthusiasm and efforts especially for the organisation of the 100th anniversary dinner which has brought so many friends, family and fans together.
Alf Wight’s stories, based on his very own experiences of being a young veterinary surgeon who worked amongst the North Yorkshire farming communities, have sold in their millions and have touched readers from all over the world. His first book was entitled “If Only They Could Talk”. James Alfred Wight was born on 3rd October 1916 in Sunderland (his mother Hannah’s former home before she married Alf’s father James in July 1915). When Alf was only three weeks old the family moved back to their own home in Glasgow and Alf remained there for most of his young life. In December 1939 at the age of 23, Alf qualified as a veterinary surgeon with the Glasgow Veterinary College, taking on a brief post in January 1940 in a veterinary practice in Sunderland. He moved on in July 1940 to work in the rural practice of Donald J Sinclair in Thirsk, located close to the sweeping hills and rich valleys of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks, where he remained for the rest of his life.