At the annual Welcome to Yorkshire, White Rose Awards ceremony held at the Leeds United Stadium, Yorkshire Air Museum picked up the first of 10 awards won by North Yorkshire organisations.
The “French in York” Festival took place in October last year and was a celebration and commemoration around the 66th anniversary of the 2500 French airmen leaving their base at Elvington at the end of World War ll. The event culminated in a high profile occasion at York Minster with senior diplomats, ministers, politicians and service chiefs from France, Britain and countries across the world. With a Military Parade and fly-past of 17 French and British military aircraft including the Rafale, Typhoon and Lancaster, a unique memorial was inaugurated for the 51% of French airmen who were killed in action whilst based in York and was attended by 10 French aircrew veterans.
The “French in York” Festival’s other element was to attract French tourism into the City and the Yorkshire Air Museum co-ordinated a series of 10 other associated events with many businesses and organisations across York and with support from across UK. (City of York Council recently re-connected with its twin City of Dijon as a direct result).
Museum Director, Ian Reed, who accepted the award last night said, “Whilst this event had a very significant commemoration at its centre, there are 60 million French people who live just 19 miles off our shores, yet most think Britain is just London. This was an almost unique opportunity for York to expand its horizons. York should not think of itself as in “The North”. It is geographically based in the Centre of Britain – and we are proud of it!” he said.
The event has struck a chord across France and London with recent films and publications still being produced about the event and plans are being considered for a French in York 2 (Tourism & Business) for next year built upon these new foundations.
This year the Yorkshire Air Museum bucked the national trend with an 18% increase in its visitor numbers, which it directly attributes to the publicity surrounding the French in York and its re-launch as a high profile corporate business event location.
Organisations that support the French in York Festival included: York Minster, Visit York & City of York Council, York Philosophical Society, Betty’s (Taylors of Harrogate), East Coast Trains, Café Rouge, City Screen and The Press.