A while ago on this Blog we mentioned the annual Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show. This year it took place on 1 August and here are a few photos from the day.
For the Show on film – have a look at The Forgotten Fruit, made by Deadpan Films.
After five years of work we’ve made it to the end of the 2008-2013 North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with our fantastic LEADER Programme (shame on you) it’s been a tale of projects and people, places and the other dreaded ‘p’ – paperwork! Basically, the Programme provided funding for innovative and sustainable rural development projects under three themes: Basic Services, Village Renewal & Tourism, Conservation & Heritage.
With memories of the last Programme already beginning to fade, I thought this would be the ideal opportunity to share some of the highlights and at the same time to keep the idea of LEADER alive as we move rather quickly towards our next Programme.
Back in 2008 with five years stretching ahead of us, we started out on our LEADER adventure full of enthusiasm and high hopes. It has to be said that the end result was everything we’d hoped it would be and more. It’s been a journey which has not only had the pleasure and privilege in making a small contribution to so many projects and communities, but has provided me (and my colleagues I’m sure!) with enormous job satisfaction.
Over the years a huge number of people have been involved in the LEADER Programme delivering projects in their village or as a member of our Local Action Group and/or Executive Group.
The Executive Group have played a vital role making decisions on many aspects of the Programme. Many of the Executive were local volunteers who gave their time and skills freely, and acquitted themselves exceptionally well to the task at hand.
Along with the hard work of assessing and approving project applications, the Executive got stuck in to days negotiating the muddy banks of the River Esk to see some of the work done by the Esk Pearl Mussel & Salmon Recovery Project, trying their hand at a spot of dowsing with the Mulgrave Community Research Project, and inspecting the orchards and production unit of Husthwaite’s now famous apple juice and cider. These visits brought individual projects to life and gave us all the chance to really see the positive contributions being made to local life through LEADER funding.
The projects we have been able to support have provided us with many great stories to share. Our first training project, the Yorkshire Moors Agricultural Apprenticeship Scheme (YMAAS) took on their first group of seven apprentices in 2009. Following the successful completion of their apprenticeships, all seven young people moved on to further education or employment. YMAAS has continued and are now beginning to work with their third set of apprentices, and are frequently held up nationally as a model of good practice.
More than 20 communities were supported by the LEADER funded Community Access Project and Martyn Williams (the Project Officer) to create or improve footpaths around their villages. These new circular or linear routes are providing safe new routes to school for children, creating local visitor amenities and have meant the upgrading of a number of footpaths to multi-user routes at some of the National Park’s most popular locations.
Many of the smallest projects assisted (usually through the LEADER funded Small Scale Enhancement Schemes) have been located in some of the most beautiful parts of our area and have given us an insight into some fascinating hidden gems. To name just a few, the conservation work at Castle Howard’s Exclamation Gates, at Howsham Mill and at Handale Abbey, along with the new interpretation panels at Egton Mortuary Chapel and Warren Moor Mine, Kildale are all well worth a visit.
The people who made each project happen are often the lynch pin within communities and so were crucial to the Programme. Without them we would never have been able to have achieved all we have. The people behind the projects never failed to amaze me with their dedication and commitment. I’ve seen them do everything from making tea and scones for fundraising to digging up concrete village hall floors. The same people have also been the ones filling in the forms and I’m sure the paperwork has been tedious but it is unfortunately always an essential part of funding. However despite the difficulties and the highs and lows that some projects go through, I’d like to think that the pride of opening the doors of their newly refurbished village hall, selling their first bottle of apple juice or seeing their village come together to celebrate centuries of traditions reminded them of why they got involved, and in doing so how they became a part of the local LEADER story.
So…the five years have flown by in the blink of an eye and some tremendous projects have emerged, but instead of mourning the end of our LEADER Programme, I’d much rather see this as an opportunity to embark on our next exciting chapter. We’re going to take all we’ve learnt and use this to build our next Programme. Although it is likely to be fundamentally different in terms of the projects we’ll be able to support, it will still hold at its core the traditional LEADER principles of co-operation, networking and innovation achieved through bottom up local development.
We shall relish the challenge of developing our new Programme and the more people who get involved, the better the end result will undoubtedly be! If this all sounds like something you’d like to know more about or would like to know how you can get involved, please get in touch
We will apply to Defra in September to have a new LEADER Programme for our area and will hear by the end of the year if we have been successful.
A highlight of my summer and one of the things that I look forward to every year is attending the local Agricultural Shows in and around the North York Moors, where I get the chance to help man the National Park tent.
This year I attended Thornton Dale Show and Rosedale Show. Having the chance to catch up in a less formal environment with farmers and land owners whom I have worked with over the years is great, and I love to find out how they have done on the day with showing their sheep and cattle. I also really enjoy chatting about the work I do at the National Park with the wider public and visitors; people that I wouldn’t usual get to meet.
If you get the chance to come to one, call in to the National Park tent and see us – find out more about the National Park while the kids make a badge and do the quiz. Members of our Planning, Park Services and Conservation teams as well as an Area Ranger will be there. We are always happy to answer any questions that you have – we like a challenge.
Ami did get the opportunity at Rosedale Show to shoot a few video clips – if you want to have look – they’re on the North York Moors National Park’s YouTube page.
Kirsty went to Egton Show on 21 August – and got a few more photos.
As we’re entering the final year of the LEADER funded Small Scale Enhancements (SSE) Scheme in the North York Moors I thought it would be good to highlight some of the great projects the Scheme has supported.
The habitats and wildlife of the National Park are one of its most valuable aspects, and consequently projects which look to enhance areas for the benefit of birds, bees and insects can only be a good thing. The Honeybee Conservation project involved the purchase of 30 nucleus hives providing new beekeepers with the equipment needed to set-up new hives to help increase our local bee population. Local bees have a high tolerance to the Varroa Virus, derived from 15 years of hard work by our local Beekeepers’ Associations.
The SSE has also funded a monitoring programme to continually assess the health of the River Esk. Known as the River Esk Monitoring Initiative, twelve local anglers have been trained to assess the biological health of the river which will feed into the data collected by the Environment Agency who can then take action should the water quality drop below expected levels. The River Esk is home to a number of protected species, including the nationally important Fresh Water Pearl Mussel.
Other environmental projects supported include the Rosedale Church Conservation Area project which is enhancing a “wild” area of the churchyard using wildflower seed gathered from a local farmer’s hay meadow; and St Matthew’s Church Habitat Improvements linking children with their local wildlife havens and sustaining the wildlife populations in area by making bird and bat boxes and bug hotels. The SSE has also supported projects to encourage local communities to start up small growing initiatives, re-connecting communities to their environment. An example is the Doorways Project which involved young people (not working or in education) constructing 20 wooden containers, which were then placed within the public realm and are used by the local residents of Easington and Charlton in the far north of the National Park to grow their own vegetables.
Local history and cultural heritage has been the most popular of the SSE’s themes and I can only mention a few of the projects facilitated. The North York Moors Association‘s History Tree at Danby Moors Centre was one of the first projects supported – a metal plate was fitted to the stump of the iconic copper beech tree (which had to be felled in 2007) displaying a timeline of historical events which occurred during the lifespan of the tree (c. 200 years), and now forms a popular teaching tool for the education team at the Centre. The conservation and promotion of our history and cultural heritage is important to give a grounding for people, which is why those involved with the Egton Mortuary Chapel wanted to erect a plaque to raise awareness and appreciation of the Chapel’s history. Sited in a secluded location outside Egton village, many locals and visitors to the area will have been unaware of the listed Chapel’s story; however the plaque will now illuminate those passing by. Similarly the new Beggar’s Bridge Interpretation Board tells the tale of the local legend behind the building of the bridge involving an endurance swim and a happy ending. It doesn’t matter if it is true or false, it adds an interesting layer to its history, so visit the site to see what you think!
The final theme has been improvements to community buildings, not only village halls but cricket pavilions, football clubs, recreation fields, churches… Conserving a sustainable functioning community of people is as valuable to the North York Moors as populations of wildlife. The SSE assisted Danby Village Hall with their A Warm and Welcoming Village Hall Project, funding loft and cavity wall insulation. The cost savings made from these works will feed into the Danby Village Hall and Esk Valley Community Energy websites to help share useful information with other communities.
Quite often it is the hidden benefits which are the most worthwhile, as with the Fylingthorpe Methodist Chapel. The funding simply provided a new cooker for the Chapel, and one of the resulting benefits was it allowed the community to set up a ‘luncheon club’ for the elderly residents of Fylingthorpe.
Overall there has been some great projects (too many to mention in this post) and it is hoped that this enthusiasm and interest can be carried forward using future grant schemes.