Peter Wright, famous for his TV show, The Yorkshire Vet, is back with his latest book, My Yorkshire Great and Small. This time it’s something a little different, all about the great county of Yorkshire and all the things about it which are important to him. “It shows the fantastic heritage we’ve got,” he grins. “It’s about the wonderful things Yorkshire has to offer. I talk about the diversity that Yorkshire has, our wonderful cities and countryside. Yorkshire is the centre of the world. We’ve got everything here.”
Born and bred in Thirsk, Peter now lives overlooking the village where he was born. It’s funny how far Peter has come in life, the great wisdom he owns and the experiences he holds but physically in distance, he’s not gone very far at all.
“There is an awful lot of history around here. When I open the bedroom curtains in the morning I can see right across to the Vale of York, I feel very lucky. It isn’t just the countryside, it’s the people as well and the history of the people that we’ve had around here.” Peter discusses many famous people in his book who have done remarkable and profound things, that originally graced Yorkshire cobbles including tales of Captain James Cook the explorer who mapped the Pacific, discovering Australia and New Zealand.
His book is packed with anecdotes of famous Yorkshire events and the encounters he has had. He laughs when he chats about meeting TV chef Rosemary Shrager at The Great Yorkshire Show. “Dare I say, she was an intimidating character. She frightened me to death, but she’s a lovely person. I minded my Ps and Qs when I attempted to cook alongside her. She said to me, ‘Come on Peter, strip off your jacket and your tie!’ I felt like a naughty schoolboy!”
Most people do gaze back to yesteryear with a full heart and a clouded judgement, only remembering the best of times. But even though Peter admits he is maybe looking back through rose tinted spectacles, He’s inclined to prefer the simpler times to the ones we have now. He describes an idyllic setting of his childhood in Yorkshire: “It was great, we were in a village community, we felt very safe, nobody locked doors and everybody helped each other out. Not to say that we weren’t mischievous as kids, because we were. But there was no malice in it. We just enjoyed ourselves. We used to go fishing, spying at birds’ nests, looking to see all different species of birds because birds were more plentiful then. We didn’t have the conservation issues that we have now. We used to build dens using farmers, hay straw stacks. We would put our jackets down, use them as goal posts and have a game of football. We’d have a go at anything really. We’d watch Robin Hood on the television and then we would go out and act it with handmade bows and arrows. Life was very different.”
With a nostalgic smile on his face, Peter endearingly admits that growing up on a farm, he used to befriend many of the animals. “My father gave me 12 hens to look after of my own, the first thing I did before I went to school in the morning was go out and collect the eggs. We also had a rabbit and I would let him out of his cage in the morning and he would go for a walk around the village and then toddle back at bedtime, you couldn’t do that now.
“One thing that’s definitely changed from 60s and 70s Yorkshire, and the world as a whole, is pollution and climate change.” Peter is passionate about this, and gets hands on to try to combat it. “I find litter in the countryside a massive sin. I know it is only a small part of climate change but it does deface our beautiful countryside. At least once a week myself or my wife or both of us will go out. We will pick wine bottles up, coffee cups, sandwich wrappers etc. I find it so sad that people can’t appreciate and look after the countryside.
“I have been making a programme, which will come out soon, called ‘Big Week In The Wild’. I was filming at Bempton cliffs, where there is a wonderful colony of gannets. They’re thriving but there are a lot of birds like Guillemots and Puffins that are not. A lot of those sea birds are in decline because of the climate change and food being scarce. Look at how we have built up rubbish over our coastal areas of the years, it’s terrible what man has done, not only to our wildlife, but they are poisoning all our land.”
Peter is driven, not just to save the animals and landscape of Yorkshire but he is also going international with various organisations. “Rhinoceros are all endangered due to man hunting them and taking their horns. They are highly sought after in the Far East. People will pay huge sums of money for them. These people don’t care if they are on the verge of extinction. I’m becoming more involved with ‘Save the Rhino’, I am hoping to go to South Africa and get involved. That is literally hot off the press.”
So, not only is South Africa on the cards for him, but he’s also got Ethiopia secured for 2020 too. “I’ve been asked to be the first ever ambassador for ‘The Donkey Sanctuary’. They do fantastic work in rescuing donkeys which have been neglected and abused. They now stretch out all over the word, educating people, working with local communities where donkeys are used as pack animals to deliver water to the villages. They are doing an awful lot of work in Ethiopia, next year I am going out there to help with the donkeys, that’s really close to my heart.”
Peter’s job is one which is intense and demanding. Peter is an extremely heroic yet humble gentleman, passionate about helping all living things around him. It is crazy to think that when most would be thinking of settling into retirement Peter is instead jetting off across the world using his skills, knowledge and caring nature to help save more animals and communities! He is taking the warmth of Yorkshire to an international scale and sharing the unique generous charm of the north with the world.