After a long history, Pontefract Civic Society appointed its very first patron, Michael Sayles Fox DL, at the Annual General Meeting last week, held at Carleton Grange. At the close of the meeting, a framed certificate was presented in front of an appreciative audience of members.

Paul Cartwright, civic society chair, said “Our trustees have been talking about the need for a patron for two years, and it’s therefore been a long time coming, though we now recognise the value in having a patron, and it’s taken almost a year to find a suitable date in the diary. Michael’s family goes a long way back in Pontefract, and he shares our passion for the town and the civic society. He will therefore be a great addition to our armoury”.

In receiving the certificate, Michael said “I can think of no greater honour and privilege than to be appointed as the first Patron of Pontefract Civic Society. Its values reflect my own – celebrating the past and influencing the future. In my role as a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of West Yorkshire, I will do all I can to assist my former home town and the Society which has given me such an honour”.

Michael’s family hailed from Pontefract. A distant ancestor fought for the King when garrisoned at Pontefract Castle during the English Civil War. Another became a Liberal Party Alderman serving on Pontefract Town Council, whilst others grew liquorice in the Valley Gardens, and his Grandfather was born in the house next to the gardens.

Michael went onto say “Pontefract and my family has had a rich history, though that is of course is the past – what of the future? One of the many reasons why being a Patron has given me such joy is the forward thinking and innovative approach of the Civic Society in helping to ensure that Pontefract retains its ability to attract people to live, work and enjoy themselves in a prosperous town. Pontefract Civic Society has entered into key strategic partnerships with Wakefield MDC and the private sector and that is the best way to get results. There is a real dynamism within the Society and a passion to make Pontefract well known both to residents and non-residents alike. For my part I will do all I can to assist in this work as one who has Pontefract like a stick of rock at its core.”