AS 2017 draws to a close, Ryedale’s mayors and church leaders given their festive thoughts and wishes

THE 4,000 lights on the shockingly high Christmas Tree in Pickering’s ancient Parish Church make a terrific impact, especially as one enters the dark church late afternoon.

Each light represents an individual life – a person loved and who loved – and who is missed so especially this Christmas-time. Coming together, these little pinpricks of light are a sight that thrill, making people gasp at its beauty.

These lights remind me of lines from the Christmas Carol, O little town of Bethlehem:

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

the everlasting light;

the hopes and fears of all the years

are met in thee tonight.

Christmas, a time of joy for many but of sadness to others is, most especially, about God loving us so much he was born a baby, humbled in a stable: a light hat shines in a dark world and in dark situations and moments. A sign of the love God has for every one of us.

I wish you a blessed and peaceful Christmas.

Fr Antony Pritchett, Vicar of Pickering and Marishes with Lockton and Levisham

ON behalf of Kirkbymoorside Town Council, I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas filled with happiness and fun.

I wish you good health and prosperity and may this season of giving and spending time with family bring you joy that lasts throughout the year.

While most of us will be spending time with our families and friends, for some it is a very difficult time and we must think of them and do all we can to support them.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who volunteers their time to support the local groups and charities.

These are the unsung heroes of our community and their commitment is very greatly appreciated.

Thanks also go out to all the emergency services, Yorkshire Air Ambulance staff and fire servicemen and women that keep us safe throughout the year.

Looking forward to a happy, healthy and hearty 2018.

Angus Ashworth,

Kirkbymoorside mayor

I TOOK on the appointment of Pickering town mayor with no small amount of trepidation.

My family is new (relatively speaking!) to Pickering and I find my role as councillor to be both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. It is a constant learning curve.

Pickering continues to be a vibrant market town, which thrives due to our great selection of independent retailers - butchers, bakers, hardware, electricals, outdoor wear, home accessories - the list goes on.

Every day I hear “what a fabulous place Pickering is to visit’ and “I wish we lived somewhere as friendly”. It’s easy to take for granted that which we see every day. We are very lucky to have so many volunteer groups – without which our library, memorial hall, Christmas lights, etc, wouldn’t be as we see them today. Volunteer numbers are, however, declining each year - if you can help in anyway please do get in touch.

On behalf of Pickering Town Council, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy and prosperous New Year.

Helene Haythorne, Pickering mayor

HELMSLEY is a lovely place to live, significantly due to very active volunteers, residents and businesses.

On the council’s behalf, I thank everyone for their valuable contribution to Helmsley life. With much building taking place, the town will welcome many residents of all ages in the near future.

2018 sees some important occasions; on Saturday, May5, the Tour de Yorkshire will pedal through on their way to Scarborough; on the weekend of July 21 and 22, Helmsley in Business presents a weekend of events as the town hosts the National Town Crier Competition on the 21st. Hopefully Helmsley’s record-breaking town crier David Hinde will be his usual loud self.

Quiet and reflective times follow with the commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War in November.

There’s always a good turnout for Helmsley’s Remembrance Day Parade and Service.

I wish everyone all the best for 2018.

Councillor Carol Swift, chairman of Helmsley Town Council

THIS is now my fifth Christmas message and worryingly the human race still appears unable to learn from its mistakes.

We now have displacement of perhaps more people in the world then ever before. The repercussions of this will be with us for many, many years to come.

Natural disasters have been at the forefront of the news channels this year and our thoughts and best wishes go out to all those affected in any way. Again lives and welfare have been influenced by something completely out of our control - or are they man-made?

Closer to home I now believe that, with the events and functions I have attended in the past year, there is a real "community buzz" gaining momentum within our towns. Long make it continue. Remember it is only takes small steps. My sincere best wishes go out to one and all - may God be with you.

Ray King, Norton mayor

IS has been an eventful year for Malton Town Council.

Last year we repaired the cemetery chapel roof. This and other work has drained our reserves which the council now has to replenish.

Over the years Government cuts have forced the district council to pass responsibility for some functions onto the town council, such as grass cutting, and the lease of Orchard Fields for example, and we are currently taking over the management of the walkways at Ladyspring Wood.

We’ve managed to minimise the extra cost by obtaining grants, including Section 106 grants from money paid by developers, joint projects with Norton Town Council, and opposing Ryedale’s bid to make the town council responsible for street lighting in Malton, which would have been a huge additional expense.

In this way the council has saved £91,000, plus the cost of taking on the street lighting (which could have cost as much again), and has kept next year’s council tax precept increase on a Band D property down to £13.15.

In addition to the routine work of the town council, we’ve arranged for the renewal of play equipment at Rainbow Lane; jointly with Norton Town Council and others we’ve contributed to the renewal of town centre CCTV and with the help of money contributed by our County councillor, we have purchased a mobile pump for the prevention of flooding.

This year the town council has welcomed our new clerk, Gail Cook; her experience in regard to grant applications has been particularly useful. Last year Mick I’Anson took over the management of the cemetery, and he and his team have done an excellent job in looking after it.

As mayor, I’ve been proud of the support of town council members. We will continue to work together in the interest of the community.

I wish all residents and businesses a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Paul Andrews, Malton mayor