RURAL life was celebrated in style on Friday evening at a ceremony at Terrington Village Hall.
For months, entrants in the Ryedale Rural Community Awards have been holding their collective breath in anticipation of winning one of the six awards, and the evening was a celebration of everything that these groups have achieved.
Launched in July by Ryedale Voluntary Action (RVA) and Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY) in association with the Gazette & Herald, Ryedale Rural Community Awards were set up to recognise and reward rural voluntary and community groups for their tremendous efforts in helping to build happier, stronger and more sustainable rural communities.
The evening, sponsored by Howardian Hills AONB, was introduced by Sarah Lally- Marley and Maggie Farey of RVA and RAY, who explained why they were keen to launch these awards to recognise all the hard work that goes on in these communities.
Then it was down to the business of announcing the winners of these rural ‘Oscars’.
The suspense was broken when Tina Chamberlain and Leah Swain from RAY, sponsors of Village Hall of the Year, declared Thixendale Village Hall as the winners of this first award.
This was followed by the award for Community Group of the Year, sponsored by Rural Voice, which was won by Hovingham Farmers’ Market.
The young people in rural communities were then applauded as Ebberston Youth Group was crowned Rural Youth Group, and were given their award by sponsor McClarrons Insurance.
The evening then took a tasty turn as a supper of home-made cakes was served up, courtesy of Hovingham Bakery, while wellknown Ryedale raconteur Doreen Wardle entertained with poems in Yorkshire dialect.
The final winners were then announced, with June Coverdale being crowned Rural Volunteer of the Year by Sarah Hyde, editor of the Gazette & Herald; Hovingham Action Group as Rural Community Project of the Year under £10,000 by Johnsons Accountants; and Wrelton, Middleton and Aislaby Playgroup took the award for Rural Community Project between £10,000 and £50,000, sponsored by HPE Print.
There was a surprise Judges’ Recommendation Award, sponsored by Howardian Hills AONB, given to Gilling East Village Hall, which was introduced by Andrea Hobbs, head of RVA.
Sarah Lally-Marley, one of the organisers of the awards, said: “It really was a lovely evening and great to bring all these community groups together and give them a chance to promote their work as people don’t always realise what they do.”
Sarah Hyde said: “It was a pleasure and a privilege to be involved with the awards and to meet the finalists at the awards ceremony.
“Their stories show that Ryedale is a place where community spirit is thriving and there is a great sense of villages increasingly taking charge of their own destiny.
“All the entries deserve success and coming up with the finalists and then the winners was incredibly difficult as every project and nomination had merit.
“The people and groups we were able to recognise are simply the tip of the iceberg and I’m already looking forward to seeing next year’s nominations, and hearing about more of Ryedale’s local heroes.”
Rural Youth Group of the Year winners Ian Waines, Jeni Loosley, Katie Fawcett and Sophie Nichol from Ebberston Youth Group
Judges’ Recommendation Award winners Chris Pickles and Simon Harrison from Gilling East Village Hall
Rural Community Project winners Martin Bell and Mark Woolley from Hovingham Farmers’ Market
Rural Volunteer of the Year winner June Coverdale (right) with friend Julie Price