Welcome to the original Humans of Hebden Bridge! Launched in September on Facebook as a project by visithebdenbridge.com , we are speaking to various people in the town and finding out about them! We are delighted to bring you our first instalment from a lovely gentleman known to many.
Ralph, originally from Berlin, Germany moved to Hebden Bridge in Calderdale / West Yorkshire with his wife Vitalija in September 2012. We dug a little deeper to find out his story!
What made you come to Hebden Bridge, and how long have you lived here?
Well, I lived here 5 years now, and what made me come was a story in itself, our landlord and dear friend Tony in Cambridge gave us a notice when we came back from a peace dance camp, he wanted more space in his house with his partner, so he asked us to move out. We felt it was probably a blessing in disguise. We had lived in Cambridge for 16 years. So, ‘’where can we go that has a bit of everything?’’, we thought. We heard that some of our peace dance group friends lived in Calderdale and they described to us what sounded a lovely place, we decided to give it a go and they were right! Once we came to Hebden Bridge and rented a room above Bubblefloss Tea rooms – now the Lamppost Café, found through an ad in HebWeb, it was the place we wanted to stay.
The town was flooded on the day we visited on 9th July 2012, this didn’t put us off however, and we arrived permanently soon after. I experienced flooding as a resident on Boxing Day 2015 which hit hard, but everyone chipped in and the community spirit moved me, it was great to be a part of that! I am very happy with life in Hebden Bridge.
What are your favourite things about Hebden Bridge?
Mainly the people and the sense of community, the togetherness and the fact people get on and try to help each other, I love the countryside and the nature element of Hebden Bridge, there are so many things to see and do here, my mind feels peace here and it’s the perfect environment for me and my wife to live a good life!
What do you do for a living?
I am directly employed as a personal care assistant and I care for a gentleman with mobility issues, I have the odd cleaning job and I love doing gardening and we do enough to make ends meet between me and my wife. She does art but at the minute hasn’t got an art manager, so amongst all my bits and pieces I help with that as well, all the extras I do help financially.
Previously, I produced 50 radio shows for ‘’ Ralph’s Positive Hour” on 209Radio when I lived in Cambridge, I also chaired the Cambridge Inter-faith Group for 6 years, these were both voluntary and I gained a lot of enjoyment out of them!
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
What do I enjoy doing, or what do I actually do?! Well, I do enjoy going out, the freedom of just going for walks, saying hello to people and getting out and about makes me feel good. Trying to be open to the spirit of the moment, I believe there are angelic forces that speak to us telling us to do the good things in life. If there’s an old lady trying to cross the road with her shopping, I get satisfaction from going and helping with that, as most people would. It happens a lot, people are so grateful for things like this but it’s things that don’t take much effort that other people appreciate!
I love singing and dancing, as you may already know, I do peace dances and spiritual chanting; I also organise and run (with my several volunteers and helpers) the HB Dance Festival. Singing and dancing at the same time is so fulfilling, you can feel the energy amongst everyone and I love that part of it and the peace dances are probably my favourite hobby.
Back in 2012 I also began volunteering at the town hall reception desk every 2 weeks, as I had some free time and again, gave something back to the community. Quakers, community, networking, etc., so yes I get up to plenty in my spare time!
How can you help other people in Hebden Bridge?
I think the main thing is to be an example to others, also making people happy with my free hugs! The culture here can be very much ‘’I don’t like this touchy feely type thing’’, but hugs can make a person feel so good, I try to coax them into surpassing their normal boundaries! I also do a lot of networking and bringing people closer to feel like part of the community.
I support all sorts of green groups & initiatives, do green networking and I like to encourage people to live in a more environmental conscious and positive way.
I’ve been a town planner with focus on environmental and transport aspects in Germany. Now I build bridges of understanding between people and groups and encourage co-operation, this can only help us thrive and be better together as a community.