In a grand kick-off to Our Year – Wakefield District 2024, Wakefield Council has partnered with Royal Navy Petty Officer and hometown poet Ben Taylor to craft an exclusive poem capturing the essence of the district.

Penned under his alias, Yorkshire Prose, Ben delivered the piece live for the first time at Wakefield Cathedral. This performance marked the commencement of a 366-day celebration, featuring a 24 in 24 event encompassing diverse activities across the district, providing a sneak peek into the festivities planned for Our Year.

Cllr Michelle Collins, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport said; “This year is Wakefield’s time to shine and we want people to be dazzled by the breathtaking spectacles and unique activities we have in store. With this in mind, we knew we needed to do something pretty special to kick things off. So, from curated tours of the National Coal Mining Museum to plant pot painting at Pontefract Castle, our 24 in 24 event brought together our communities to start Our Year with a bang.

“Ben’s headline performance set the tone perfectly for everything the year holds. We hope his words inspire people to celebrate our district with us. Discover the brilliant things on their doorstep. And encourage those from further afield to come and experience what the Wakefield district has to offer.

“There are hundreds of ways you can get involved in Our Year right across the district. With a calendar of 366 things to do during 2024 there really is something for everyone. We’re looking forward to creating memories which last a lifetime, and supporting a year which will have a long-lasting cultural legacy for our district.”

The poem’s proud celebration of what makes the district great in the eyes of those that live here, were met with an incredible reception at the live cathedral performance.

Filmed against the iconic backdrop of Wakefield’s Hepworth Gallery and the stunning scenery of Yorkshire Sculpture Park, amongst other quintessential local places, Ben’s recorded performance of the poem has also been well received across social media channels.

Keen to break down barriers around art and culture, in line with the ethos of Our Year, Ben Taylor has lent his signature Yorkshire Prose dialect verse to a number of projects close to his heart. They include a Remembrance Day poem for The British Legion and a collaboration with Yorkshire brewery, T&R Theakston on the emotional attachment to the pint.

On the Our Year collaboration Ben said: “As a Wakefield lad myself, I had so much to go at for this piece. As part of the writing process, we invited the community to give us their favourite things about the district to create something that’s not only for Wakefield people but by Wakefield people.

“We wanted to get across that it’s not just art, heritage and famous things that make Wakefield great. It’s the people and their local pride which put the heart in Wakefield, and I hope this rings true when people hear the poem.”