IF it wasn’t for the hard work of volunteers, community groups and local organisers who are at the centre of rural communities, these villages would not be the vibrant places they are, and we are celebrating these hard-working neighbours, friends and colleagues in the Ryedale Rural Community Awards.
Launched by Ryedale Voluntary Action (RVA) and Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY) with the Gazette & Herald 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, and 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 is under way to find the cream of the crop and today we announce the three finalists in the category Rural Community Project of the Year under £10,000, sponsored by Johnsons Accountants Limited.
Slingsby Allotments Association
GROWING your own produce is something that people love to do, yet with land being at a premium, allotments can be hard to come by.
However, Slingsby Allotments Association, established in November 2010, was set up to help – by securing land for use as allotments for the benefit of residents of the parish of Slingsby, Fryton and South Holme.
The association’s committee manages the allotments on behalf of the parish council which owns the land, leased to the association for an initial period of ten years.
There are currently 18 allotments which have been created on one acre of land, a project which cost £3,449, with grants from the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s sustainable development fund and from Ryedale District Council’s REACT programme.
Nineteen members of the community put in 82 hours of voluntary time preparing the land, including fencing, ploughing and setting out plots; accessing a water supply, providing parking and obtaining planning permission for the erection of sheds and greenhouses.
“The creation of allotments was in response to the need first identified in the parish plan,” said Brian Clarke, of Slingsby Allotments Association.
A general meeting was set up to confirm the demand from residents of the parish and the parish council was involved in providing land for allotments.
Local contractors were used to erect fencing, provide water pumps and to deliver stone for the parking area.
“The community has been kept informed of progress through regular articles in the village newsletter and an open day for all residents and supporters held in September,” said Brian.
“The project meets the need of residents who wish to grow their own fruit and vegetables and contributes to improving the environment by encouraging local, sustainable food production, reducing food mileage and encouraging recycling.
“Allotments are complementary to the rural environment and provide new habitats for wildlife.”
Hovingham Village Market Group
KEEPING businesses alive in rural communities is important in this day and age when people can hop in their car and travel to the nearest supermarket.
Hovingham Village Market Group, a community-led voluntary group, has been running Hovingham Village Market since August 2009, providing a vibrant, local and sustainable community market, supporting local businesses and producers.
It also gives community groups the opportunity to raise funds and benefit from the visitors by running either a community cafe or community stall.
Any surplus funds are re-invested into the market or provide grants to help other local projects and groups.
The initial start-up cost was £1,750, yet running costs and future investment are approximately £7,500 a year, met by rent from stallholders, other income and the group’s own fundraising.
“Over 80 per cent of residents indicated in our community plan that they wanted a local producers market, and they wanted regular community events and to build community spirit,” said Mark Woolley of Hovingham Village Market Group.
“An initial team of eight enthusiastic volunteers recruited 20 stallholders for the first market held in October 2009.
“We now have up to 40 local businesses at every market. The community cafes and community stalls have raised more than £15,000 for community groups and the opportunity for community service organisations, such as York Hospital and Howardian Hills AONB, to publicise their activities in the locality.”
The market attracts more than 800 visitors a month.
The market is self-funding, though it received grants of £1,200 from LEADER to help with initial publicity to attract visitors, a banner and tables needed for indoor stalls.
The market was awarded Britain’s Greenest Market 2010 by the National Market Traders, has launched ‘Hovingham Market on Tour’, visiting other local community events and the York Food Festival, and the group attends conferences, sharing experience, lessons learned and helping other rural communities to fulfil similar projects.
“The market provides a regular monthly social event, where residents can get together, do some shopping and then a chat over refreshments provided by the community cafe,” said Mark.
Wombleton Parish Plan Steering Team
COMMUNITY newspapers and information packs are vital to inform residents about what is happening within their villages.
Wombleton Parish Plan Steering Team, established two years ago, has produced a parish plan and welcome pack for their village.
The parish plan gives a ‘snapshot in time’ and includes a timetabled outline of existing and proposed projects for the community and includes the demography of the parish, a history of Wombleton and a sketch of Wombleton today.
The document has been designed to allow the inclusion of leaflets giving useful contact details of groups in the village, a list of businesses and information on travelling shops.
Details of village walks are also included and the plan will, in turn, form the basis of a village welcome pack to be distributed to all new residents.
The project cost £3,300 and grants were awarded from Yorkshire Rural Community Council, Wombleton Parish Council and Ryedale Area Committee (Kirkbymoorside Electoral Division Budget).
“The parish plan would not have been possible without the involvement of the majority of the community,”
said Dr Nigel Walters, of Wombleton Parish Plan Steering Team.
“This was achieved through consultation, public meetings and two questionnaires and the steering team is proud that a response of over 90 per cent was achieved with the main questionnaire.
“This has been a project which has truly involved the whole community, resulting in a high-quality parish plan, beautifully illustrated by a local artist.
“With the inclusion of a pocket on the back cover, into which updated information can easily be inserted, the document will remain relevant for the next five to ten years and can form a village welcome pack available for all new residents.
“As a result of the plan, new community groups have formed, including the footpath group, a broadband group and a village archive group.”
• JOHNSONS Accountants Limited in Pickering is sponsoring the Rural Community Project of the Year £10,000 award.
“We believe that such projects meet a need in the community and prove that you don’t have to spend large sums to improve people’s lives and make a difference,” said David Walker, director of Johnsons.
“This value-for-money approach makes the award appealing and well worth supporting.”