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 Rural Volunteer finalists, in the category sponsored by the Gazette & Herald.
JUNE COVERDALE was nominated by Westow Cricket Club members keen to show their gratitude for her hard work for both the club and the village community over the past 50 years.
Julie Price, cricket club secretary and Gazette & Herald correspondent, is unstinting in her support for June to win.
She said: “June’s outstanding support and commitment to Westow Cricket Club is, and has been, of tremendous help to the club.
“During her working life she would sometimes finish a night shift, then after a couple of hours’ sleep, go to a match and score for an 80-over cricket match.
“She always provides prizes for any fundraising events, for the cricket club and other charities.”
June helps out with other groups, particularly the Bar 13 Wednesday club and the Railway Club Monday bingo nights. She also runs a tombola stall at the monthly Westow village fair in aid of the cricket pavilion fund, sourcing all the prizes herself.
Julie said: “Nothing is too much trouble for June. If someone needs help or is looking for something, June will help, lend or give you what you are looking for.
June will score any cricket match or help at any event, even though she does not have the best of health.
“This has been even more difficult for her since the passing of her cricket-loving husband earlier this year.”
HEATHER Pettiford’s dedication to Hutton-le-Hole’s village hall has seen it develop into one of the best in North Yorkshire.
Leading from the front, Heather’s attention to detail is described as “phenomenal” and over the last nine years she has led the revival of the village hall.
The grants she has organised have been used for renovation of the facilities, provision of disabled access and an overall transformation of the hall.
Heather has also designed and introduced a village hall website raising its profile both in and outside Hutton-le-Hole.
She has led the renovation of the playing fields and tennis court and supported the development of a youth group.
In addition, Heather has been a member of the parish council for eight years and chairman for the last five.
Heather said she had got involved with the local community after moving to Hutton-le-Hole from Hertfordshire.
“It is very nice that people considered me worthy of putting my name forward.
“I feel humbled and honoured that they have taken the time and trouble to nominate me.”
PHILIP CHAPMAN has been involved with the Hovingham Action Group and sub groups since it began in 2009 following the completion of the Hovingham and Scackleton Community Plan and is also active in many other areas of village and community life including Hovingham Parish Council and Ryedale Road Safety Forum, among others.
Nominating Phil, Mark Woolley, chairman of Hovingham Village Market Group, said: “Phil led the formation of the action groups which have achieved, and continue to achieve, many positive results in our community not only in terms of projects completed, but providing residents with opportunities to contribute to their community and benefit from the feeling of wellbeing and positive community spirit that has resulted.”
He added: “Phil is first port of call and communication lynchpin among the residents, the Action Group and wider rural organisations. His special skills in leadership, administration and communication have eased the path of many of our groups and projects, which has allowed others to make their own contribution using their own skills.
“His generous and patient nature does not intimidate the quieter and more vulnerable members of our community and hence the Action group has a wide appeal in the community.”
One of his many achievements is the creation of the ‘bring, share and enjoy’ format for village events, where people attending events can bring guests and their own food and drink and then share it with others. This has allowed the elderly, the shy, and children to gather together in Hovingham in a relaxed environment while having a good chat.
Mark added: “His willingness to give a lot of time to his community, day or night, and take pleasure in it, is a catalyst to others.
“Without his dedicated efforts the Action Group would have a much lower profile and have a much shorter list of achievements.”
• The Gazette & Herald is delighted to sponsor the award for Rural Volunteer.
Sarah Hyde, editor, said: “All those people who toil away behind the scenes, motivate others to get involved or initiate improvements which benfit the community are the real unsung heroes of Ryedale and I am delighted that this way, we can give them the recognition they deserve.”