One day towards the end of the 1940s, 'a small urchin on a new bike' was cycling along the still-cobbled streets of Huddersfield. The sound of beautiful music magnetised him and he followed it until it led him through an open door and up an imposing flight of stairs, where he found himself eavesdropping on a rehearsal for Handel's 'Messiah'. That early experience sowed two seeds which were later to flourish in the life of Keith Hellawell, uk Anti-Drugs Co-Ordinator: a love of music ( 'I have catholic tastes.') and an affection for Huddersfield Town Hall (below).
As a young policeman, Hellawell worked in a similar building opposite the town hall. Court hearings were held in the Town Hall. 'That's where I learnt most of my Court craft,' he says. He made his first arrest outside the building; he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Huddersfield University there; he has addressed public meetings and attended many concerts there. In the early days he found the courts 'forbidding' and the magistrates 'authoritative and autocratic-seeming', but now describes the town hall as 'solid and reassuring'. He feels this reflects the solid values that the law should represent.
As drugs co-ordinator (he detests the 'drugs czar' label) Keith Hellawell divides his time between the Cabinet Office in London and a converted hill-top farm in West Yorkshire. Hellawell designed the farmhouse himself. He is a self-confessed innovator, and the finished conversion differs very little from his original drawings.