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Duke to open Air Ambulance support base

Royal Patrol the Duke of York Credit: PA

The Duke of York will officially open Yorkshire Air Ambulance's support base at Nostell, near Wakefield today. The Duke, a former Naval helicopter pilot and instructor, is Royal Patron of the rapid response emergency charity.

Three years ago he opened the Yorkshire Air Ambulance's northern base at RAF Topcliffe at Thirsk in North Yorkshire.

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Duchess goes behind the scenes of Downton Abbey

The Duchess of Cambridge has met up with cast members of Downton Abbey, including actors from our region who star in the ITV period drama on a behind-the-scenes tour.

The Duchess, apparently a huge fan of the show, visited the Ealing Studios set to celebrate the success of the production, which is now broadcast worldwide in 250 territories. The scheduled hour-long visit stretched to two hours as she toured various parts of the studio to meet the cast and crew.

Among those who described his role was Harrogate actor Jim Carter, who plays the butler Carson.

The Queen to visit Sheffield for Maundy Thursday

Royal date on April 2nd

Buckingham Palace has announced that Her Majesty The Queen will be coming to Sheffield on Maundy Thursday, April 2nd, to distribute the Royal Maundy.

The Queen will be accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. In over 900 years, this will be the first time that this State Occasion has taken place in South Yorkshire.

The Queen will be welcomed to the city’s Church of England cathedral by a congregation of over 1,000 representatives from churches in South Yorkshire and organisations from the whole County. The Queen will personally distribute a gift of Maundy Money to 178 individuals over the age of 70 in recognition of their service to the church and community.

According to ancient tradition, the number of recipients and the amount of money are directly related to the Sovereign’s age. Therefore, as Her Majesty is 89 years old, 89 men and 89 women will receive 89 pence in specially minted Maundy Money, together with a further gift, in two specially made leather purses.

The money is specially struck by the Royal Mint for this service, and includes 3 pence pieces—which are legal tender! The 178 recipients have been nominated by churches from across South Yorkshire, and each is invited to attend the Cathedral with a guest. All of them have been chosen because of their service of church and community.

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MP questions Welcome to Yorkshire chief's omission from New Year honours

A Yorkshire MP has spoken out over the decision not to include Gary Verity, the man who brought the Tour de France to Yorkshire, in this year's Honours list.

Speaking in the Commons, Shipley MP Philip Davis expressed his disappointment that the Welcome to Yorkshire boss had not been included after bringing one of the world's biggest sporting events to the county:

Controversy surrounds New Year's honours list

to controversy over the New Year's Honours List following the leaking of some high-profile names, including the Epworth-born actress Sheridan Smith.

Among those honoured today are the Hillsborough campaigner Trevor Hicks and the inspirational doctor Kate Granger. But there is no award for Gary Verity - the man who masterminded the Tour De France in Yorkshire.

David Hirst reports:

Surprise after Gary Verity is left out of New Year honours

Several Yorkshire personalities have tweeted their surprise that Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity was left out of the New Year honours list.

Surprise after Gary Verity is left out of New Year honours Credit: Press Association

Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan and Yorkshire Cricket captain Andrew Gale both voiced their shock at the omission.

Cllr Riordan congratulated the recently retired Peter Smith who was recognised for his role in sport in the city, including overseeing the Tour de France in Leeds and the city's contribution to London 2012.

Knighthood for Chesterfield's John Hurt

John Hurt, one of the grand figures of TV and film, has been awarded a knighthood for his services to drama.

Kighthood for Chesterfield's John Hurt Credit: Press Association

His distinguished career has taken him through a series of mesmerising performances, from the groundbreaking TV portrayal of Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant, through his title role in The Elephant Man to his brief incarnation as The Doctor last year in BBC One's Doctor Who.

Few viewers would ever forget the heart-stopping moment Sir John met his end in Alien, or his role as Winston Smith in 1984.

The 74-year-old, the son of a clergyman, developed an interest in acting at school but was discouraged by his parents and headteacher, and instead went to art college with an eye to becoming a teacher.

However, he went on to land a scholarship for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) and picked up TV and film roles until he had his major breakthrough, appearing in A Man For All Seasons as Richard Rich.

Sir John achieved further prominence in the film 10 Rillington Place as Timothy Evans who was wrongly executed for the crimes of serial killer John Christie (played by Richard Attenborough), and as Caligula in the celebrated BBC drama I Claudius.

His distinctive voice graced a chilling Aids awareness ad campaign in the 1980s, the character of Hazel in the animated film Watership Down and Kilgharrah the dragon in the BBC series Merlin.

Other roles have included occasional appearances as wand-maker Mr Ollivander in the Harry Potter films, his performance as Stephen Ward - a key figure in the Profumo affair - in Scandal and a reprisal of his role as Crisp for An Englishman In New York in 2009, 34 years after his original portrayal of the flamboyant figure.

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