OVER the last three months people from across the entire district have demonstrated the true meaning of the word “volunteering”, and we want to share some of the incredible stories of impact, inspiration and community spirit that make Ryedale and Ryedale people special.

In March 2020 the Ryedale Covid19 Volunteer Network was set up and started mobilising volunteers who wanted to support others during the difficult period of lockdown. A number of key partners came together in a collaborative response, alongside the network, including a new Community Response Organisation, Ryedale District Council (RDC) and North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and together they have supported residents in Ryedale to live safely in lockdown.

The Worsley Arms in Hovingham joined the Community Kitchen initiative with proprietor Tony Finn offering up the hotel kitchen to volunteer chefs, Antony Gillham, Rob Hillary and Nathan Parry from The New Malton in Malton.

The trio cooked 65 meals weekly for elderly and vulnerable people in nearby villages delivered by volunteers from the Ryedale Volunteer Network, led by Slingsby village co-ordinator, Fiona Farnell.

Fiona said: “I jumped at the chance to get involved in the community kitchen project because I love helping people and being useful – and there is no better time to do so than now.

“The community spirit and number of volunteers that came forward was overwhelming, but not surprising given the village communities involved where people are always willing to pitch in and help.”

Tony Finn, from the Worsley Arms, said: “We were delighted to take part in such a great initiative which has helped the most vulnerable in our area. As a business we value our local community and the project has allowed us to put something back during these difficult times.

“All credit should go to those who identified the need and did something about to set up the scheme. We are just happy to help.”

Run by the Ryedale Volunteer Network, the Community Kitchens have received funding from NYCC Stronger Communities team and support from RDC, Lady Lumley’s School and the Wilf Ward Family Trust in Pickering.

Cllr Di Keal, who is leading on the community kitchens, said: “The meals that have gone out so far have been hugely appreciated and we would like to thank the Malton Cookery School for helping us by providing the meals for the first few weeks of the scheme. We soon found that we needed to increase the number of meals needed so RDC, along with Mr Wilf’s Café and Lady Lumley’s School in Pickering and the Worsley Arms in Hovingham, stepped in to help.”