Aidan was a career railwayman who worked in the industry for 35 years before joining Sue in their Yorkshire Food Finder adventure. The pair met when Sue joined the Regional Railways North East press office and got together as a couple a few years later.
Sue rather rudely called him the Fat Controller because of his role as the regional director of the railway in charge of 6,000 staff covering the north east, Yorkshire and Humberside, and where, among other projects, he was instrumental in introducing the electrified railway from Leeds into the Yorkshire Dales.
He joined Railtrack at its inception, becoming director of the railway between London and the Scottish border, later taking on a safety policy role on behalf of the wider industry. Part of his remit was community safety, in particular the safe use of level crossings. This work led him all over the globe advising other railways, including being a member of a United Nations working group investigating level crossing issues. He was renowned as a world expert on level crossing safety but passed on the baton when Yorkshire Food Finder started to grow.
In fact, it was because of Aidan that Yorkshire Food Finder began in the first place. On a visit to his mother in Suffolk he and Sue had embarked on a tour of a smokehouse where visitors were given a tour of the smoking sheds before lunch in the smokehouse café. Heading back north they became stuck in that infamous traffic jam and whiled away the time by musing on their visit.
Aidan was convinced that Yorkshire was ripe for similar experiences and together they drew up their idea for gourmet food trails linked back to local eateries and tentatively approached Michelin-starred chef Andrew Pern with their thoughts.
His answer? He gave them a list of his supplier and producer contacts and encouraged them to hit the road and discover the best of Yorkshire’s food and drink producers for themselves. A year later, with thousands of Yorkshire miles under their belt, scores of face-to-face meetings and notebooks stuffed with information Aidan and Sue were ready. Yorkshire Food Finder was born…