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Foxholes: fighting spirit alive and well
"I think Foxholes is one of the best kept secrets on the Wolds," said Christine Johnson.
When a villager makes such a declaration, you know the place must be more than a picturesque commuterville.
Christine has lived in Foxholes for 11 years and couldn't be happier.
"You go to the post office and you come home two hours later because you've bumped into three people you haven't seen in a while," she said.
There is certainly a strong community spirit in this ancient settlement, which gets a mention in the Doomsday Book.
Perhaps that has something to do with its isolated situation. Atop the hills above Sherburn and Staxton, it's 10 miles from its nearest town of Driffield, 18 miles from Malton and 14 miles from Scarborough.
"We have an extremely busy road running through the village, which can link Hull Docks to Middlesbrough, but in terms of public transport we are very ill-served," said another resident, Debbie Raper.
"We have one bus, the post bus, which looks like Postman Pat's van. All it's missing is Jess the cat!" she said. "It comes through twice a day on its way to Malton. We're really hoping we don't lose it with the post office cuts."
In fact, the closure of the village's sub-post office as part of the national cull is a very sore point, as there are no other amenities like a shop or pub.
Of course it wasn't always thus. One hundred years ago there was a pub called The Ship. Foxholes was the last watering hole for farm animals on the way to Kilham. There was a village pond where the green is now, so the animals had a drink there while the men went to the pub.
Elaine Spencer, who was born in the village, remembers all sorts of amenities coming and going.
"There was a general store, a post office, a sweet shop, we even had a Wimpy bar at one point," she recalls.
Currently there is a service garage and also a bed and breakfast business, as well as Wilfred Scruton Ltd, the well-known agricultural engineering company.
It is feared that the beautiful church may have to close. The Methodist church has already gone, now used for private storage.
But despite these changes, or maybe because of them, village life is thriving and villagers work tirelessly on events and activities to keep the community alive.
Elaine has organised many of them over the years, including themed village fetes ranging from medieval to the wild west. Her favourite memory is getting Denise Nolan to open the fete. Christmas and Easter parties are also popular events, and proceeds are all ploughed into the village hall.
"The village hall is our last amenity, that's why we're fighting for it," said Debbie.
It seems they have been fighting forever, in fact.
The hall was originally given to the villagers by the rector of the church as a school in around 1880 and it closed when Wold Newton School opened in 1950.
But the deeds, which were held with a York solicitor, were lost in a fire.
"Because there was so much uncertainty for so many years, a lot of vital work didn't get done, and it has fallen into very bad repair," said Christine, who is one of the trustees.
"We were almost working on the basis of squatter's rights," she said.
By the time the trustees finally established ownership of the hall for the village, it was clear that a new one would have to be built. At that time, back in the early noughties, there was lottery money available for a new building, but more bad luck was to befall Foxholes Village Hall. The new site needed an archaeological survey, which has held the work up until the present day, and lottery funding has now dried up.
Half the money can be raised by the building of houses on the site of the old village hall, and villagers are determined to find the other half, but for now they are making do in the old village hall, which is a real hive of activity. There's pilates, computer lessons, art classes, dress-making classes, food hygiene - you name it!
Perhaps the most established group in the village is the craft group, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.
"There is something really special about the craft group," said a very talented member, Lavender Sykes, who has her own kiln. "We have 18 members and we rotate round each others houses and make all sorts."
But far from being a village full only of genteel sewing ladies, this is a very integrated society.
A couple of years ago a scheme called the Foxholes Novas was set. During the summer holidays teams of young people from the village volunteered their services for jobs to raise funding for the play area.
"They did all sorts from cutting wheat in the fields to painting fences and dog grooming. It was a good way of uniting the generations because they'd get to know you and you would get to know them and so instead of feeling wary of the teenagers we would chat to each other and saying hello," said Christine.
And Debbie runs a youth club at the village hall on Fridays, which she set up when her own two sons James and Richard were young and there wasn't much for them to do. "They are smashing kids," she said. They start from five, or younger if accompanied by a parent, and go up to 18. "The sexes and age groups mix - the older ones tolerate the younger ones very well."
Debbie's husband John Raper represents the village and surrounding area on Ryedale District Council, and this year he will become the authority's chairman.
Even the regular round of flu jabs becomes a social event in Foxholes. "The nurse comes and does it in the hall and we have teas and coffees and ask for donations. People come from outlying farms and it turns into quite a party!" said another village hall trustee, Megan Whittington.
Yes, there's a tradition of making your own fun in Foxholes, and nothing illustrates this better than Megan's account of painting a fence one summer evening.
"I started painting and then a neighbour came out to help me," she said. "Before long another neighbour had sent their teenage sons out to help, and more people gradually came to join in. Someone brought me a glass of wine. At 10.30pm, we had people lined up right along the fence painting, and a couple drove past in the car with the window down. We heard the woman say: Oh how idyllic!'."