THE Mayor of Pendle has finally made it to the top of Pendle Hill – successfully completing a challenge he had been working towards since the beginning of the year (pictured below with friends and fellow mayors).

A jubilant James Starkie was joined by 60 friends, family, representatives from Pendle Leisure Trust and the mayors of Burnley and the Ribble Valley at the summit to congratulate him.

Since the beginning of January, the recently-retired councillor has been on a mission to lose weight and shape up for the challenge he had set himself, with the help of a dedicated team of gym instructors from Pendle Leisure Trust.

He said: “It was a joyous day, and whilst whatever happened, I was always going to reach the top, the first few steps were the hardest. But once I got into the rhythm of the walk, taking just one step at a time, it was easier than I expected it to be! It was so good to see colleagues, family and friends at the top - it’s such a stunning place to be.”

Luke Allwood, Pendle Leisure Trust’s health and fitness manager, added: “It was great to see him make it to the top - but I was always 100 per cent confident he would do it – even when he doubted himself.

“It’s not been an easy journey and Mr Starkie did find it tough at times, but this challenge has helped him mentally, as well as physically. And he must have enjoyed it, because he has signed up to a full membership.”

Mr Starkie set himself four targets – to lose weight, help local children who need additional help with learning to swim, encourage other people to get fit and climb Pendle Hill by the end of his Mayoral year in May.

Over the last four months, he has overhauled his diet from unhealthy food and drink to healthier alternatives and attended regular gym sessions and fitness classes. He has lost just short of two stones in weight and fourteen inches overall, and more than £1,000 has been raised - with many pledges still coming in – to pay for a number of Year 6 Pendle primary school pupils to take part in crash courses to enable them to reach the national curriculum standard.

WHILE on the subject of Pendle Hill, my walking colleague, who often takes herself up to the top and back of a weekend, has taken to carrying a rucksack which she fills with all the rubbish she finds on her way to the summit. In addition to the discarded drink bottles, she tells me she has rescued a large cardboard box (pictured above) and, curiously, some underwear.

A HUNDRED years ago, it was reported in the Craven Herald that there was to be public holiday of three days in the coming July to celebrate the end of the First World War. The celebration of peace was to come under a specially formed Government committee under Lord Curzon. The first day was to have a procession to London representing the fighting forces. It was to be led by men who had seen active service and was to include women’s organisations, volunteers, and special constabulary. Similar processions were to take place in larger towns. There were also to be bonfires, treats for the children, and dinners for the ‘poor and aged’, much along the same lines as for the Coronation, reported the Herald.

THE Craven Herald, also in May, 1919, reported on the death in the Skipton Workhouse of Mrs Mary Ann Towler, believed to be one of Yorkshire’s few centenarians. The paper had already reported some months earlier when the unfortunate Mrs Towler had been admitted to the workhouse her claim of being 102 - or 103 - had been disputed by the members of staff. And this, despite her claim being backed up by her cousin, Mrs McMullen, of Skipton, who herself was 93. Mrs Towler, originally from Kettlewell, was one of six children and for 40 years she was married to the gamekeeper of Netherside Hall, Grassington. Her brother, Enoch, was a conductor of the orchestra at a Leeds theatre. Two of her cousins, Tress Walker and Thomas Walker, both Kettlewell farmers, were also centenarians, Tress living until he was 104 and Thomas until he was 102.

ALSO of 100 years ago, the Gisburn branch of the Comrades of the Great War Association was busily organising its first ever annual sports and gala. Due to be held on the last day of May, 1919, ‘weather permitting’, it was to include a number of races, including a 100 yards flat race and one mile flat race; an obstacle race and a tug-of-war. There was also to be high jump, a pillow fight, sack race, and most interestingly of all, a pig catching competition. The Clitheroe Borough Band was to provide the music for dancing.

MEANWHILE, 50 years ago, in May, 1969, Rolls Royce in Barnoldswick was advertising for a translator. The advert (pictured above) specified ‘ladies with a good working knowledge of French are invited to apply for this interesting position in our planning department. Only fully qualified typists will be considered’. In return, the company offered ‘excellent working conditions, pension scheme, canteen and welfare facilities. Applicants were invited to apply to the ‘female personnel officer’.

PLAYING at the cinemas in Skipton in May, 1969 were not just one, but two ‘Carry On’ films. The Classic was showing Carry On Constable, starring Sid James and Hattie Jacques, and also Carry On Teacher, with Kenneth Connor, Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques. Over in the Plaza, which last weekend played host to the Hinterlands Film Festival, Anthony Quinn was starring in Barabbas. At Skipton Parish Church, at the inauguration of its organ appeal, there was a recital by the Leeds Guild of Singers, conducted by Frank Mumby, and with James Brown on the organ.

A PARTY of Japanese ‘television personalities and journalists’ paid a visit to Grassington 50 years ago, in 1959. The Craven Herald reported that the visit was organised by the British Central Office of Information, in connection with a forthcoming ‘British Week’ which was to take place in Tokyo. They were pictured in the paper alongwith Major and Mrs RJ Allen, proprietors of the Grassington House Hotel and Mrs HM Gill, a member of Skipton Rural District Council, who lived in Grassington.

SOME clever wag at the recent local elections was clearly bowled over by Craven District Council’s use of a penguin as part of its publicity reminding people to take ID to the polling stations. In the film, a penguin was featured waddling along to the words ‘don’t forget to bring your ID to vote’, and then backing up, to the words ‘or you’ll have to go back home and get it’. One person went along to the polling station , carefully crossed out all the nominations on the polling card, drew a picture of a penguin, and placed a cross next to it.