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 has been underway to find the cream of the crop and today we announce the three finalists in the Rural Community Project of the Year over £10,000 and under £50,000, sponsored by HPE Print.
Wrelton, Middleton and Aislaby Community Playground
WHEN the residents of Wrelton, Middleton and Aislaby were consulted in the parish plan about what was most needed in the area, the result was that a playground would be the biggest asset to the community.
So it was that Wrelton, Middleton and Aislaby Playground Committee was set up in 2009 to oversee the creation of Wrelton, Middleton and Aislaby Community Playground.
An obvious site was available at Wrelton Village Hall, where there had been plans in the past which had not come to anything. The hall committee agreed the land behind the building could be used, and the playground team applied for and won £25,000 from the North Yorkshire County Council Playbuilder Scheme for the design, supply and installation of play equipment for children aged eight-13.
Gayle Williams said: “We held creative engagement events where the children were involved to determine their requirements and a survey was completed and a shortlist of equipment was based on these findings.”
“We also consulted with the parents of a less able-bodied child to address his needs, which resulted in the addition of a Tarmac pathway.”
After a great deal of work the playground started to take shape. Diggers moved in to create a mound for a tunnel and slide and then the aerial slide, swing and climbing frame were added.
The final piece of the jigsaw was the installation of two benches in the shape of poppies carved by local chainsaw artist Steve Iredale, to a design created by the young people.
The playground has been open since May and has been used extensively by parishoners and also by visitors staying in local holiday cottages.
“The playground has provided a meeting place for children, which they access by foot or bicycle from all three villages in the parish, uniting the whole community,” said Gayle.
“This has brought life and movement into the village and we hope that this continues to evolve community cohesion.”
Kathy Waddington said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as finalists for the award which is testimony to the hard work and dedication of the many families that have worked on the project. It has been fantastic to bring people together in this way and it is very rewarding to see the young people getting so much enjoyment from the new facilities.
“The prize would enable us to continue developing the area as a community resource.”
The Enchanted Wood in Adderstone Field, Dalby forest
FORESTS are magical places for children and the Friends of Dalby Forest (FoDF), which works with the Forestry Commission to initiate a number of projects, has created The Enchanted Wood in Adderstone Field in Dalby Forest.
The project, which cost £32,500 and was supported by more than 600 volunteer hours, is aimed at allowing pre-school and primary level children the opportunity to enjoy, explore and understand the forest through a series of walk and interactive play activities around naturally and man-made structures.
“The Enchanted Wood has taken five years to come to this point of development,” said Celia Knott, director of FoDF.
“The project initially developed from a volunteer’s experience of having surgery and not being able to explore the forest with her children. This idea was expanded on by FoDF who worked with local schools to run a competition to design the entrance to the Enchanted Wood area.
“The environment in which these activities will take place is themed, hence the name, and we have maintained, where possible, as much of the natural look and feel of the forest with play areas appealing to children.
“We have brought to life the ideas the volunteers have been working on for the past few years and have sought supplementary funding from Yorventure to fulfill these dreams and provide a fun learning outdoor environment for young children. These items include a wooden fort, a secret story telling area and a unique entrance structure.
The money for the project was raised through fundraising events such as the Dalby Duck Dash and Yorventue with funds generated by Yorwaste Ltd.
“We have a wide range of volunteers stretching across the Ryedale and Wolds areas,” said Celia.
“We’re really excited about being chosen as a finalist. Our magical enchanted wood now rings to the cheerful sounds of children playing, as they have fun exploring.
“This achievement is all down to the hard work of everyone involved in the project. Our recent opening in the International Year of the Forest has seen families encouraged to go beyond the Dalby visitor centre.
“We have seen more families coming into the forest who would have just stayed on the field at Adderstone, intrigued and wishing to explore the area having seen the entrance across the field.”
St Hilda's Meeting Point, Ampleforth
ST Hilda’s Parochial Church Council in Ampleforth has been established for many years and is responsible for maintaining the church building and churchyard and, together with the vicar, is responsible for services and the social life of the church.
It has close contacts with St Hilda’s Church of England Primary School in the village and with the nursery, working with the children and their families.
The church is open every day for the community and visitors to participate in activities taking place in the church.
The group’s latest project, St Hilda’s Meeting Point, costing £13,049, has been financed by a grant from the LEADER programme.
“The project aims to enable the church building to be open for use by the wider community, particularly families, older people and tourists, and also to encourage the use of the churchyard for environmental projects,” said Freda Shaw, of St Hilda’s Parochial Council.
They want to provide simple catering facilities situated in the base of the church tower, so coffee and refreshments can be provided, allowing the church to hold coffee mornings, concerts and provide the base for informal drop-in mornings.
“The provision of coffee after services would create a more informal way of people meeting – particularly important for anyone living on their own and also give the vicar a chance to meet more of the community,” added Freda.
The church has also worked with the hall committee regarding the use of toilet facilities.
The parochial church council has agreed to pay an annual sum of money to the hall committee to use the toilet facilities in the hall when they use the church for social events and the local primary school uses the facilities and has provided displays for the church and altar cloth frontals.
• HPE PRINT based in Pickering is sponsoring the award for Community Rural Community Project of the Year for over £10,000 and under £50,000.
Managing director Steve Smith said: “We feel it is important to recognise the time, effort and commitment involved by many groups and individuals who work tirelessly on a variety of projects which provide lasting benefits for their communities.”