It is always sad to hear the news that a friend in the hobby has died, but in the case of Mike Cook, it is especially bad.
For those who didn't know him, Mike Cook was York Model Railway Exhibition. He had been the lynch-pin of the organisation for 49 years and 2012 would have been his 50th exhibition. A record no one would have beaten. Sadly, he will only be with us in spirit.
My Dad and I have taken many layouts to York. We've been attending as exhibitors on and off since the show was in the centre of the city. Those days you could finish your operating session and nip out to watch the buskers performing in the streets whilst munching Yum-Yums. In the evening there would be social events to entertain you if you wanted. I always avoided the barn dance but loved the sing-song in the Brown Cow pub.
With one man the driving force behind the show, the quality could vary slightly from year to year. Mike admitted as much in his book "The Show That Never Ends". However over the last decade or so, you'd have been hard pressed to have found such a consistently good show anywhere.
More than that, and I think this is where Mike scored, the show has an undefinable atmosphere. It's friendly and pleasant. You want to be part of the gang inside the barriers but if you can't be, it's worth being outside and wandering around.
We'll still be taking Flockburgh to York next year. It's a shame Mike didn't make the half century but he had a damn good try. We'll all be doing our best to honour his memory and look to carry forward his legacy, a superb show, for many years to come.