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Finalists in the Village Hall of the Year category of the Ryedale Rural Community Awards 2011
VOLUNTEERS, community groups and local organisers are the beating heart of a rural community like Ryedale, and we are celebrating these hard-working neighbours, friends and colleagues in the Ryedale Rural Community Awards.
Launched by the Gazette & Herald, Ryedale Voluntary Action (RVA) and Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY) in July, the aim of the awards is to recognise and reward rural voluntary and community groups in Ryedale for their tremendous efforts in helping to build happier, stronger and more sustainable rural communities.
We have been inundated with entries from keen community groups, village halls, youth groups and projects and have had plenty of nominations in the volunteer of the year category, too.
Judging has been under way to find the cream of the crop and today we announce the three finalists in the Rural Village Hall of the Year, sponsored by RAY.
All the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony, sponsored by the Howardian Hills Area of Natural Beauty, in Terrington Village Hall on Friday, October 21.
Gilling East Village Hall
AT the beginning of the year, Gilling East didn’t have a village hall.
With no school and no shop, people tended to be drawn to events in neighbouring villages and this lack of a community hub encouraged members of the village to come together to see what could be done. The former village school building had stood empty and largely neglected since 1983. Its uncertain ownership had been a difficulty but having found out that it was owned by the Diocese of York, this opened the way for the village hall management committee to take on its refurbishment and create a village hall. In 2008, work began to raise funds and apply for grants to refurbish the hall.
Volunteers dug trenches and broke up the original hall floors, an outside play area for children was created and indoor toilets, a kitchen and mezzanine floor have been installed, the latter providing space for a meeting room/information room.
The hall is now in the process of bring painted and funds are being raised to provide furniture, equip the hall for use in sports and many other community activities and extend the playground.
“Our village hall has only emerged as a useable facility within the last few months and remains to be ‘proved’ in action,” said Christopher Pickles, chairman of Gilling East Village Hall and play area.
“However, we have set ourselves specific objectives for the future which we believe will have positive outcomes for older people, families and younger members of our community.
“We are thrilled to be nominated for this award – it’s very exciting,” added Christopher.
“We have been working on this since February 2008 and a huge amount of volunteer work has gone into it. We’d be very excited if we won – the prize would be very useful as we still have a lot to do.
Getting ourselves known is hugely important as we want people to come to us with ideas on how to use the space and make the hall a great centre for the community.”
Cropton Village Hall
CROPTON Village Hall was brought into the 21st century in 2005, after a £300,000 refurbishment – £100,000 of which was raised in the community.
The hall lies at the centre of the village and is the focal point of the community, providing a home and meeting place for all the village’s societies, clubs and groups.
The events they run with the help of Rural Arts draw support from communities in the surrounding areas and they host many diverse events, from a concert by Filey Fishermen’s Choir to an old car rally, a cycling club and even a taxidermy conference, plus film shows, quizzes, auctions, dances, whist and domino drives and fetes.
Regular groups and societies make use of the modern, clean and up-to-date facilities which include a main hall, meeting room, IT suite, kitchen and toilets, and it benefits from disabled access and amenities.
These include the parish council, church, chapel, WI, heritage group, two yoga groups and indoor bowls.
“Without a doubt, the event which is of most benefit to the community is the monthly coffee morning,” said Vic Worrall, chairman of Cropton village hall committee.
“This free event is very popular and well attended because it gives people the opportunity to get out of their homes and mingle and chat with the rest of the community.
“The refurbishment was achieved by the community coming together and the village hall ensures they stay that way. We are totally reliant upon volunteers to run both the hall and the events. Even so, there is never a shortage of people willing to help.
“If we won, it would mean a lot to the community in the village and the people who give of their time selflessly – I feel so proud of this community and what it has done and it would be a magnificent award.”
Thixendale Village Hall
THIXENDALE Village Hall is the hub of this small community on the Wolds.
This venue, a listed building which is used for both community and private events, has a wide range of facilities, including an outdoor patio area, indoor sports equipment and a display area for books and games that can be exchanged.
It is within a short distance of the church and has disabled access.
The village hall hosts plenty of events for Thixendale’s residents, including monthly children’s activities with Rural Arts, weekly yoga and singing group, an annual children’s party and High Wolds Heritage Group meetings.
It also hosts parish council meetings, displays information and supplies leaflets on Government and local issues, offers a computer with internet facilities for community use and even doubles as an exhibition space and a weekly post office.
The village hall also caters for the wider community, serving refreshments following joint church services with other villages; Sunday teas to walkers, cyclists and tourists, and provides whistle-stop drinks for charity events, as well as being used as a base for Leavening Junior School during educational nature walks.
People of all ages benefit from the village hall, but also maintain it, with children being involved in the upkeep of flower tubs.
“We are all thrilled that we have been nominated for this award as it recognises the work of the community and proves that all of the efforts put into projects has been worthwhile,” said Lynne Boyes, of Thixendale Village Hall committee.
“A lot of people give a lot of time and their efforts are not always seen, so it shows that all of their hard work is worthwhile. I think it’s very important to keep things like village halls alive in rural communities, and this will hopefully encourage younger generations to get involved and carry forward the projects.”
• Rural Action Yorkshire is an independent organisation which works with villages and smaller rural communities throughout Yorkshire to help improve the quality of life of the people who live and work there.
It aims to ensure that rural issues and ‘the rural voice’ are heard, acknowledged and addressed by the decision and policy makers at all levels of government.
Rural Action Yorkshire works with local communities to recognise and develop the skills and knowledge that exists within the community and empower local people so that they are able to have an input into how their local area and services are best managed.
Leah Swain, chief executive of Rural Action Yorkshire, said: “We believe that village and community buildings provide an extremely valuable community resource and that they lie at the heart of community life, as a meeting place in which activities can take place.
“We are delighted to sponsor this award and to help raise the profile of the fantastic projects and work which has been taking place in Ryedale.”