My Yorkshire: Andy Topps, MD of Vital Agency

Andy Topps is managing director of Vital Agency, a digital company specialising in design led projects with technology-based solutions.

Based in Wetherby, the company works with SMEs in the logistics, manufacturing, retail and finance sectors offering branding, web design, e-commerce, content and digital marketing.

Where do you live/where are you from?

I am originally from East Markham in Nottinghamshire, but moved to Thornton, a small village outside Middlesbrough, when I was young. I was brought up by my mother as my father died when I was four, attending local schools until I went to Askham Bryan College near York to study agriculture before embarking on a career in IT.

What is your favourite place to visit in Yorkshire and why?

I am very keen on keeping fit and find exercising outside is both good for the mind as well as the body. I have son aged 20 and now a young family so I’m very aware that much of my original regime wasn’t that inclusive let alone appropriate for little legs, so as a family we find all manner of ways to enjoy fresh air and fun. My original career was in sales in agriculture, so my love of farming appears to be in the genes.

To this end, my children – and my very patient wife – love any country shows in Yorkshire. My older son also shares my passion for the outdoors, so we regularly visit the Yorkshire coast and the Dales. If I fancy some mind-space, then a brisk walk up Roseberry Topping does the trick.  The views are stunning.

What is still on your “to do” list in the region?

I’d very much like to go sailing on a Tall Ship and would like to do more water sports in general off the East coast.

What is the most memorable meal you’ve ever had in Yorkshire?

The food in Yorkshire is just as diverse as its landscape and I have had the pleasure of enjoying excellent food across the board. I did propose to my wife during a meal in London, but whilst that was suitably memorable, I am most content at a table in Yorkshire. I don’t need Michelin Stars, I’m happy with a relaxed atmosphere and if you add food encased in pastry, a pie at The Durham Ox, ticks all the boxes.

What is your most Yorkshire trait?

I see myself as an ambassador for Yorkshire, often eulogising about the delights of the region to people who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting or living here. I find that the majority of Yorkshire people, do exactly the same, so if this is a trait, then I’m proud to have it.

Favourite piece of trivia about the region.

Amy Johnson, the renowned aviator, was originally a typist from Hull. A clear example that you should never judge anyone by their day job!

What is your favourite cultural icon to come out of Yorkshire?

I think the artist David Hockney has transcended all manner of icon.  He’s a global phenomenon who is extremely talented and managed to embrace the true sentiment of Yorkshire in his recent works which were seen all over the world.

His extraordinary art promoted our beautiful countryside to many who may not have even heard of Yorkshire.  He seems to me to be a living icon and a true celebrant of his home county.

Worst experience or thing about Yorkshire?

Our public transport could do with more investment so we are less reliant on our cars.  I find our system lacking and Yorkshire’s current commitment to transport in rural communities is poor.

What is one thing you’d steal from Lancashire (or other UK regions) if you could?

Media City in Salford, where both BBC and ITV manage broadcast studios, has been a boon for the city and I consider this something that would have been just as successful in Yorkshire. With the arrival of Channel 4 in Leeds, we are now getting the attention Yorkshire deserves as a hub for innovation, media and technology.

If that proves to be a catalyst to attract more burgeoning creative industries in Leeds and wider afield, then that impact can only benefit smaller pioneering companies like the Vital Agency – healthy competition is good for all.

What is the most overrated thing about Yorkshire?

Even as an adopted son of Yorkshire, I’m struggling to think of anything that is overrated.  Underrated would have been a far easier question. If I am forced to include something then I find the constant reference to Yorkshire ‘flat caps and whippets’ an overrated characteristic of Yorkshire people. We are that but far more too. Yorkshire has a diverse population, culture and landscape and I have yet to find a region with such a proud heritage.