Every cloud has a silver lining. That is certainly the case in Sheriff Hutton. The coronavirus lockdown and pandemic has brought the village together like never before.

When they realised that there were elderly people who were isolated and stuck at home, a group of villagers - including Claire Ellis from the village post office and store, churchwarden Jill Hodges, and Penny Bean from the parish council - got together to form a team of volunteers to collect prescriptions and make deliveries.

That team quickly grew to more than 80 ‘Village Volunteers’. Each volunteer had a badge, and each was given responsibility for a particular street or road. Their job? To collect prescriptions or do shopping or other tasks for neighbours who were shielding,. self-isolating or for some other reason unable to get out and about.

Soon, co-ordinating their activities via social media, they were collecting prescriptions from three different GP surgeries (in Sheriff Hutton, Terrington and Strensall) and delivering food and medicines not only in Sheriff Hutton but in Lilling, Stittenham and Cornborough too.

They even launched a ‘pop-up library’ - in the village bus shelter.

Most of the volunteers were working-age villagers who had been furloughed and were keen for something to do. But to back them up a network of older ‘telephone volunteers’ quickly developed. All over 70, they would ring round friends and neighbours, check they were OK, and find out if there was anything they needed that the younger Village Volunteers could deliver.

The village post office and store, run by Claire and her husband Barrie, quickly found itself at the heart of the community. With the help of furloughed family members, they began to massively increase deliveries and drops to villages as far afield as Flaxton, Welburn and Bulmer. The store, which stocks a wealth of local produce on new display shelves, including eggs, milk, dairy, meat, honey and fresh vegetables, also became hugely popular as a grocery pick-up spot for villagers unable to travel far from home.

In fact, the store soon became so busy that Claire had to hand over her share of the responsibility for co-ordinating the Village Volunteers to Jill Hodgson, so she could concentrate on the shop.

But there’s no doubt that the pandemic brought the village together in a way not seen before, Claire said.

“It has been really, really nice. There is a fantastic feeling in the village,” she said.

Villager and telephone volunteer Roy Thomspon said that, before the pandemic, many villagers had gone off to work early in the morning and didn’t return until nightfall.

Lockdown had changed all that, he said.

“Most of the people who became Village Volunteers were on furlough and looking for something to do,” he said. “It has brought about a real community spirit.”

And it is a community spirit that shows every sign of continuing, Roy said.

Since lockdown began to ease, the Village Volunteers have continued to work together - helping co-ordinate the Yorkshire Day celebrations and VJ Day in the village.

They hope to organise a village market soon, Roy says.

Claire agrees that the village has emerged from the pandemic ‘stronger and more caring’.

But the new togetherness will be needed as we enter a post-Civid world, said Roy.

Village events and sports clubs have been badly hit by coronavirus, there have only been two services since March at the village church - and none at the Methodist church.

As things stand, it will be a very long time before village life returns completely to what it was before.

But at least now, because of coronavirus, there is that new sense of community spirit to draw upon.

Do you have a story about how your community has pulled together because of coronavirus? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Call Stephen Lewis on 07880 059260 or email stephen.lewis@nqyne.co.uk