Northampton People – To be Proud of and Celebrate
It was great to see the University of Northampton Honour one of the town’s proudest people when they awarded Ben Cohen an Honorary Degree which got me thinking that there is a whole host of people who were born in the town and of who we should be proud, but for some inexplicable reason we not only don’t celebrate but in fact the majority of people aren’t even aware of their connection with Northampton.
Ben is of course well-known by the rugby nuts as a member of the England 2003 World Cup winning team, but before becoming an international he was also a member of the East Midlands U19’s who won the National Championship two years in a row something that has never been achieved before or since.
Francis Crick has a memorial in Abington Street in recognition of his discovery of the building blocks of life.
A discovery that has changed the fundamentals of the way the human race operates from medical interventions through to DNA profiling and the conviction of criminals who previously would have got away with it.
Lesley Joseph famous as both a television and stage actress from Kingsthorpe has retained very strong links with Northampton and I was pleased to meet her a few years ago when she opened a new housing complex in Kingsthorpe.
What is impressive when meeting people like Ben and Lesley is their honesty, complete lack of arrogance and real commitment and love for Northampton?
They are people who reflect all that are best in the people of Northampton, a down to earth, some might say, and I’d agree, bloody minded determination to maximise their talent without forgetting where they come from.
Another who falls into this category is Alan Moore whose book Voice of the Fire is a must read for anyone who believes that but for Northampton and especially the Castle area the Universe would not exist never mind England.
In music there is the incomparable Malcolm Arnold along with the comedian Alan Carr, cricketer Graeme Swann and all number of other sons and daughters of Northampton from William Carey and Edmund Rubbra to Jo Whiley and the incomparable and definite Miss Marples, Joan Hickson.
I’ve added a list below which is not of course exhaustive.
How many have you heard of?
Gary Mills, Matt Smith, Gervase Elwes, Peter Murphy, Po Shun Leong, Anne Bradstreet, Ryland Adkins, Richard Butcher, Samuel Parker, Andrew McCulloch, William Shipley, Ray Gosling, Marc Warren, Harry Brown, Andrew Collins, Thomas Henry Manning, Richard Coles, Darren Bazeley, Robert Llewellyn, Mal Loye, Mark Burton, John Greenwood Shipman, Alec Swann, Robert Faulknor the younger, Bob Harris, Henry Bird, David J, Michael Briscoe, Ian Salisbury, Salathiel Lovell, William Alwyn, Jaime Moore, Mark Haddon, Mike Kelly, Mike Berry, Walter Tanner, Leah Moore, Courtney Lawes, David Willey, Gökhan Ülker, Arthur Rubbra, Steve Brown, Chris Mackenzie, Richard Newman, Lorna Fitzgerald, Maria Costello, Matt Murphy, Lesley Joseph, Michael Underwood, Keith Ryan, Chris Robinson, Michael Crick, Bertha Swirles, Tom Walls, Michael Norman, Martin Aldridge, Elliot Parish, Gerry Badger, Andrew Oram, Colin Lyman, Ken Nicholas, Thomas Woolston, Judy Carne, Roger Swallow, Jim Birch, Mark Powell, Ross McLean, Hollie Avil, Albert Ingham, Richard Falkner, Kevin Quinn, Andy Fensome, John Bowstead, Joseph Forde, Oliver Williams, Simon I de Senlis, Earl of Huntingdon-Northampton, David Longhurst, William Wareing, Samuel Cartwright, David Wilson-Johnson, Martin Drew, William Thomas Manning and Dave Hamilton.
So the question is
Why don’t we celebrate them?
Shouldn’t we for example make a celebration walk of the famous along Abington Street or/and name rooms at Delapre Abbey after leading people as part of its restoration, or perhaps provide a permanent display for young people to see and read in the Carnegie Rooms in the Central Library?
It wouldn’t be costly and would bring a sense of heritage and continuity to Northampton that would highlight just how proud of Northampton people should be.
A history and heritage that should be celebrated and not ignored.
There is of course another group of people who have been a constant through all of the lifetimes of the people we are talking about and they are the Hereditary Freemen of Northampton including since the end of last year hereditary freemen through the female line, the Ager, Sibley, Alsop, Gilbert and Collins families have been around almost as long as the history of Northampton itself.
Hereditary Freemen are a reminder that whilst buildings may come and go it is the people who actually make a place, and most importantly make a place proud to come from, they are in fact the living history of Northampton a history that goes back over a thousand years.
So in the year of the Queens 60th Anniversary I think it would be great for Northampton to celebrate the people who have brought such pride to our historic town, it is something I hope the public and media will get behind to create a lasting legacy for the future residents of the town.