As community groups, organisations and individuals across the region submit their nominations for this year’s Ryedale Rural Community Awards, NATALYA WILSON catches up with two of last year’s victors to find out how they benefited from winning an award.

Rural Community Group of the Year

THERE’S a great community spirit at the heart of one particular Ryedale village which is reflected in the hive of activities supported by Hovingham Action Group, the winners of the Rural Community Group of the Year in last year’s Ryedale Rural Community Awards.

The group, run by more than 100 volunteers, has been on the go for nearly three years and works closely with the village school, churches, community groups, clubs and local businesses, as well as other groups in the Ryedale area, to generate a strong community spirit, encouraging people to help themselves and their community.

Their market and community café bring together local traders and attract hundreds of visitors, establishing a unique monthly community event and raising funds for community groups.

Meanwhile, the wildlife group has built nest boxes, planted wild flowers and encouraged households to be bee-friendly. They have also established a bee apiary and sell the honey at the market.

The Environmental Action Group volunteers clear snow in the winter to keep the community going. They also repaint railings, clean signs, tidy pavements, build litter bins and much more. Other groups include a youth group, Neighbourhood Watch, gentle exercise classes, community events and village communications.

“The action group benefits residents of our community of all ages and backgrounds,” said chair of Hovingham Action Group, Phil Chapman.

“The group provides the catalyst for getting things done, providing a healthy environment for projects and centre of expertise, helping others and recognising their accomplishments.

“Winning the award provided the group and its volunteers with valuable recognition of their achievements and encouraged everyone to continue and build upon them,” he said.

“Both Rural Action Yorkshire and Ryedale Voluntary Services did a wonderful job promoting the awards and we, as a group, felt it was important to support them with our applications to encourage others to ‘have a go’, together with achieving valuable publicity for our group’s accomplishments. All of these benefits were delivered many times over.”

Phil said the group chose to “match” the £250 prize money with their own funds and used this to facilitate projects which may not have otherwise taken place, including a village Craft, Bring, Share And Enjoy event last October, which invited crafty residents of all ages to bring their wares along to a public exhibition and enjoy sharing them with the community.

Phil said he would recommend groups entering the awards this year as it helps them to crystallise what they are doing, trying to do and also how to do it.

“This is a valuable exercise, requiring some significant effort,” he said.

“However, there is also the opportunity to attend an excellent awards ceremony and a chance to win an award.”

The sponsor

RURAL Voice is a project which offers a free advisory service to help groups access support for their training and support needs.

Their rural network officer can contact groups, listen to their views and pass them on to policy makers to ensure that groups in Ryedale district are represented both locally and regionally.

“The Rural Voice project helps support and train rural voluntary and community organisations and we strive to give them representation in the issues that effect them,” said Sarah Robinson, North Yorkshire rural network development co-ordinator for Rural Action Yorkshire.

“We are pleased to be able to sponsor one of the Ryedale Rural Community Awards to recognise the contribution that these groups make to the quality of rural life.”

Rural Youth Group of the Year (which this year is being replaced by Youth Sports Club of the Year)

YOUNG people in Ebberston were so interested in creating a sense of community for their age group that they set up their own club nearly four-and-a-half years ago.

These youngsters attended meetings to discuss initial ideas and possibilities, which were then carried forward by adult leaders. Ebberston Youth Group was born, winning Rural Youth Group Of The Year Award in last year’s Ryedale Rural Community Awards.

The group, which meets on Thursday evenings during term-time at Ebberston Village Hall, provides a safe environment in which young people aged 11 to 18 living in rural villages can socialise, have fun, develop confidence and independence, meet new people and increase their respect and responsibility through activities including sports and art and crafts.

They also go on trips which are paid for through fundraising and grants, so all youngsters can attend, regardless of income.

“We constantly talk to the group about their opinions and ideas for the youth group and invite them to any meetings we have,” said Jeni Loosley, one of the group’s organisers.

“The young people have selected equipment and have always chosen activities and trips, helped organise and run fundraising events and have been involved in grant applications.”

The group also provides listening ears should the youngsters wish to talk about life changes, hurdles, sexual health, careers, home life and relationships, said Jeni.

“We assess and meet young people’s needs and provide them with opportunities to learn and develop holistically,” she said.

“Through discussion with them, we also assess individual needs and wherever they cannot meet these themselves, we signpost them to those who can help and offer support in accessing the help that they need.”

In addition, the group offers members opportunities for accreditation, providing extra learning and development to assist with their future plans on leaving school.

“The youth group is a time and place for young people to interact with each other and to be themselves,” said Jeni.

“We all strongly believe the group is for young people and what they say goes.”

Since last year’s awards, Ebberston Youth Group has been on a number of trips with more planned and has also bought more supplies for arts and crafts and games.

“We added the £250 prize money to our pot, which made a huge difference as, without money coming from elsewhere, we couldn’t do what we do," said Jeni.

“Winning the award made the group very proud and the girls who came to the awards ceremony were chuffed to bits to be there.

“I’d definitely recommend any group to enter this year’s awards – appearing in the paper really helped us as it made people aware that we are here and that we are doing things in the area for young people, and we have had a number of new members join since then – it’s all going really well.”

Jeni said they were always open to new ideas and input from new adult leaders and young people and that anyone who would like to join was always welcome.

The sponsor

McCLARRONS is an independent insurance broker which has been looking after clients across Ryedale and beyond for more than 20 years, offering insurance and risk management advice for businesses and personal customers.

With an experienced team based at its offices in Malton, McClarrons is known both locally and nationally for a passionate, personal approach and it is this recognition that has built such a strong reputation among its clients.

McClarrons’ company ethos champions “service without compromise”, so whether it is dealing with a new customer or a long-standing client, it promises to deliver professional advice and a quality of service which is second to none.

“Playing an active role in the community is important to McClarrons,” said managing director, Sean McClarron.

“As one of the larger companies based in and serving the Ryedale area, it makes good sense to support our local community.

“We were approached last year to support the first Ryedale Rural Awards and we felt that this was a great opportunity to recognise the hard work and efforts of a lot of individuals and groups across the region,” he said.

“The people involved do not ask for thanks or praise so we feel that some recognition, by way of a nomination for an award, goes a long way to saying thank you.”

The categories

Village Hall of the Year, sponsored by Rural Action Yorkshire

How does your hall benefit the local community? Do you hold regular events, training or provide vital services? Have you found a unique way to fund your hall? What makes your hall special or unique?

Rural Community Group of the Year, sponsored by Rural Voice

How do you make a difference to the lives of those in rural areas? Have you provided a service or done something to address a need in your community?

Rural Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by the Gazette & Herald

This award is about encouraging rural groups and communities to nominate someone who they feel has played a vital role in their community through volunteering their time and energy to a particular project, cause or the community in general.

Community Project of the Year under £5,000, sponsored by Ryedale District Council, and Community Project of the Year between £5,000 and £50,000, sponsored by HPE Printers

Whether the project cost £100 or tens of thousands of pounds, the judges are looking for projects that provide real value for money in rural areas and can demonstrate how they have met a need in the community. It is amazing what some groups have been able to achieve with just a few hundred pounds, things which have had a lasting benefit on their community.

Sarah Lalley-Marley, of the RVA, said: “This year, we have changed the small project award to under £5,000 as we wanted to encourage more smaller projects to enter,” said Sarah.

“We are looking for projects that present real value for money to the local community that they serve, whether the project costs £100 or £4,000. It is the benefit to the community that we are interested in.”

This year, there are two new awards:

Youth Sports Club of the Year, sponsored by McClarrons Insurance Ltd, which replaces last year’s Rural Youth Group of the Year

“This is in keeping with this year’s Olympics and the drive to encourage more young people into sport,” said Sarah.

“There are many fantastic sports clubs in rural areas that are a lifeline to children isolated from activities in towns and we wanted to highlight and celebrate these clubs and the volunteers involved who give their time and expertise.”

Rural Community Project for Older People, sponsored by Ryedale District Council

This award is aimed at groups which run projects specifically for older people, helping to reduce rural and social isolation and ensuring that older people can continue to take an active part in community life, whether its a weekly coffee morning that is valued by older people in the community, or “silver surfers” internet clubs.

“We understand that many of our voluntary groups and charities, village halls and so on are reliant on older people to keep things going so projects run by older people for older people is what we are looking for,” added Sarah.

How to enter

The closing date for entries is August 8 with judging taking place on August 15. Finalists will be featured in the Gazette prior to the awards evening, sponsored by Howardian Hills AONB, at Cropton Village Hall on Friday, September 14. The winners of each award will receive £250 for their organisation from the sponsors.

Entry forms and further information on the criteria for each award are available to download from the RVA website,

For more information, phone Sarah Lally-Marley or Maggie Farey on 01653 600120 or email or