Team North Yorkshire

Our Team North Yorkshire campaign celebrates the difference that volunteers make in their communities.

Could you help someone get online?

It’s Get Online Week from 16 to 22 October and we’re encouraging everyone to think about friends, family and neighbours who don’t feel confident using the internet.

Could you help them take the first step in boosting their digital skills? We can all do our bit to fix the digital divide!

Digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation have a range of online resources you can share with loved ones. People can also get face to face support locally in North Yorkshire libraries and through a number of community groups and voluntary organisations. Many of these are listed on North Yorkshire Connect, just go to ‘General Advice and Support’ then select ‘Digital Support’ from the drop down.

If you’re interested in volunteering as a library IT buddy or digital champion you’ll find links further down this page.

If you have a laptop, smart phone, tablet or iPad that you no longer use, Reboot North Yorkshire collect, refurbish then donate unwanted devices, providing a lifeline for residents who might not otherwise be able to get online.

In North Yorkshire we have a strong network of community and voluntary organisations involving thousands of volunteers, with more than 4,000 people directly supporting council services.

Community champions make a huge contribution to lives across the county and play a crucial role in helping to keep North Yorkshire cleaner, greener, thriving and more connected in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

Many of our services are also delivered with vital help from volunteers, including managing and maintaining public rights of way, promoting the council’s reduce, reuse and recycle waste reduction priorities and working with our teams to look after museum and archive collections. They are also critical in a vast range of roles such keeping North Yorkshire libraries open, helping run schools as governors and supporting the emergency response during major incidents.

Volunteers bring a variety of skills, knowledge and expertise to the projects and initiatives they’re involved with and we are extremely grateful for their commitment, energy and enthusiasm.

We're celebrating the difference that volunteers make by sharing stories from across the county as part of our Team North Yorkshire campaign.

How to get involved

As well as helping others, volunteering can be a great way to learn valuable skills and make new friends. It's also been shown to improve the wellbeing of people who volunteer too.

If you've been inspired to get involved and do something positive in your community, you'll find volunteering opportunities from a wide range of charities, groups and organisations on the Community First Yorkshire volunteering directory.

You'll also find information about volunteering roles with us on our volunteering page.

Team North Yorkshire volunteer stories

Robin Davies, Fountains Abbey volunteer

When 78 year old Robin Davies jumps into his car to make his weekly journey to Ripon, he knows he is in for a day full of surprises. The retired policeman is a volunteer at Fountains Abbey and says every day is different - with new people from around the world to meet, all with their own tales to tell.

Robin said: "Being a volunteer is one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever done. You never know who you are going to meet that day - they could be from the other side of the world or the other side of Ripon, but everyone is there to see the wonders that Fountains Abbey offers."

He joined the 300 strong volunteer team at the National Trust property ten years ago. After retiring from North Yorkshire Police, he spent time as a taxi driver before joining the Harrogate Community Safety Partnership. However, when he left there, he realised how much many areas of the workplace rely on volunteers. 

Robin said: "Working for Paperworks opened my eyes to the importance of volunteers. I knew I had to help in some small way. Ten years on I am still at Fountains Abbey. If you love history and the natural world, this is the place to be."

Some days he can be found greeting visitors in reception. On others he will be driving people with mobility issues around the abbey.

"I love meeting people from all walks of life and helping wherever I can. I would recommend volunteering to everyone, whatever their age. It gives me a buzz every time I am at Fountains Abbey," he added.

Andrew Moss, senior volunteering and community officer at Fountains Abbey, said: "Put simply, we wouldn't be able to look after our World Heritage Site if it were not for our amazing volunteers."

Gerry Broadbent, Georgian Theatre Royal volunteer

If all the world's a stage, then Gerry Broadbent's roles on it as a volunteer are many and varied. Gerry, 79,  and his wife Janet, retired to Richmondshire from the Hull area nine years ago after they fell in love with the town - and its Georgian Theatre Royal - after regular visits over many years. The couple are lifelong theatre lovers and Mr Broadbent offered his services to the Georgian theatre almost immediately. 

"Within a week of moving here I had gone to the theatre to say I can volunteer, filled in a form and started out," he said. "I started ushering, but before long the front of house manager said to me 'I've noticed you can stand up and smile at the same time, so I would like you to be front of house'. So I became front of house too, then moved into the box office as well, then guided tours, then some of the technical stuff backstage and in the control booth, then running the Friends of the Theatre. So things escalate fast when you are enjoying yourself. Every time I go into the Georgian Theatre Royal, I get a real buzz."

Gerry, a former secondary school teacher in Hull and Beverley, is one of about 100 volunteers, including Janet, who support the theatre. The theatre is the oldest working theatre in the country still in its original form. It boasts King Charles III and Queen Camilla as patrons and Dame Judi Dench as president.

"It is a very important part of the cultural heritage of the country," said Gerry. "To lose that would be criminal, but it will only be kept going by volunteers."

Tim Phillips, Yorkshire Arboretum volunteer

When he retired, Tim Phillips, decided that was the time to scratch the itch that had been with him since his earliest years. The 79-year-old was put in touch with the Yorkshire Arboretum, a 120-acre garden at the Castle Howard Estate, near Pickering, by a neighbour in 2020 and became one of their Wednesday Tree Care team.

Tim said: “I had an interest in trees all my life, but I am a child of the fifties and sixties and back then there was no money in environmentalism, as we would call it today. So, I got a job with an oil company and spent my working life in airconditioned offices around the world."

“Tree care is about planting trees, tending them, keeping them safe and helping them grow. It is what you might call large scale gardening. Also, when big trees die, we have to fell them. With big trees comes big equipment. I did not imagine I would be using so many power tools,” he added.

A highlight has been constructing a red squirrel enclosure and re-introducing the species to that part of North Yorkshire.

Tim said: “That was extremely satisfying and was done by the volunteers under the guidance of the head arborist. Three reds were introduced last autumn, one male and two females, and they have had three babies and we are now hearing that one of the females is pregnant again.”

Tim would recommend volunteering. 

He said: “If you are doing something that interests you and that activity has a social benefit as well, then that is a win-win.”

Margaret Stainburn, North York Moors Railway volunteer

More than 600 dedicated volunteers are helping the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The not-for profit organisation relies on volunteers to operate the route from Pickering to Whitby, one of the earliest and most historic lines in northern England.

Among them is Margaret Stainburn, who for the last 20 years has volunteered as a ticket inspector on a weekly basis. Her interest in the heritage railway stems from her father, who was a steam locomotive fireman and engine driver.

She said: “I love being part of the railway, we are a big family. I can recommend things to do in the local area and making a small difference to travellers gives me such a buzz. I never get fed up with seeing the beautiful scenery.

“The heritage railway is great for the local area, bringing in tourists from far and wide. It provides a real boost for businesses at places along the route. I am really proud to have it on my doorstep.”

Volunteer Margaret Stainburn standing and smiling on the train station platform.

Since introducing annual tickets, the railway has seen a surge in return visitors, with the shop and tearoom reaping huge benefits.

Michelle Baggaley, community engagement manager at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, said: “The dedication of our volunteers has played a vital role in the preservation and operation of our esteemed heritage railway and living museum. Their enthusiasm, passion, dedication and commitment has been and is instrumental in creating unforgettable visitor experiences. Sharing and imparting knowledge, resources and skills, together they preserve the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and inspire future generations.”

James Tilburn, Community Fit volunteer

Getting healthy and volunteering often feature in our New Year resolutions but we perhaps do not find the time to realise them. But one group in Harrogate had found a way to combine both.

Community Fit has been around for 12 months and sees people spend one evening a week running, cycling or walking up to three miles to a charity or community group to spend an hour helping them.

“A lot of what we do is outside, so we recently dug out a pond next to a church for example,” says James Tilburn, 45, one of the group’s founders.

“It is a really big social activity. There are people from different backgrounds, fitness levels and age groups, we are very inclusive when it comes to accessibility and that is also taken into account when we are picking what task to do to make sure everyone can take part.”

The team takes suggestions from local groups and charities before deciding where to head for that week’s good deed. It can be anything from sorting donations to moving furniture, painting, tree planting or litter picking. The group has grown from four or five regulars to almost 50 people.

James said: “We want to do more to help Harrogate’s elderly population, so that is definitely what we are looking at next.”

Jennifer Aspden, Bedale Junior Football Club coach

The importance of volunteering is ingrained in Jennifer Aspden’s family, who are heavily involved in the running of Bedale Junior Football Club. The mother-of-two has been a coach for over five years and has been hailed for championing women’s football as this summer’s World Cup gets under way.

Jennifer husband, Brett, is the head groundsman, and their daughter, Natasha, 23, volunteers in the café. Their 15-year-old son, Oliver, who plays for the under-16s, also helps to coach the younger teams.

“The football club is close to the heart of our family,” said Mrs Aspden, from Catterick. “Like many clubs, they were short of coaches, so I started volunteering and our involvement has grown from there.”

Jennifer has coached the under-sixes up to the under-nines and has recently introduced 24 girls to the sport.

“The success of grassroots football in rural areas such as Bedale can’t be downplayed,” she said.

“The club is an important social space for young people, many of whom don’t go to the same school but have made friends here. We aim to boost confidence, promote fitness and above all have great fun. We are an inclusive club, welcoming people of all abilities. The club relies on a team of dedicated volunteers, and we are always on the look-out for more.”

Tom Tyson, Malton and Old Malton Cricket Club coach

Few people pack more into their week than barrister Tom Tyson. Alongside his demanding day job, Tom has volunteered for almost 10 years at his beloved Malton Cricket Club as a coach, championing women’s involvement in the sport.

He has fond memories of playing cricket from an early age, and his sons are now a key part of the junior team.

“Balancing my work and personal life is extremely difficult as the nature of my job can bring long hours,” said Tom. “However, coaching gives me the opportunity to switch off and means I can give something back to a club which welcomed me in.”

The club has a renewed focus on developing female participation in cricket, with numbers increasing for their Saturday sessions.

“I do it for the love of the club and to ensure it has a bright future by training the next generation,” added Tom. “The club is a place where young people can gain confidence, forge friendships and improve their physical and mental health. We aim to ensure we offer a safe and welcoming environment for all.”

Tom's  humility shines through as he thanks the four full-time qualified coaches and others behind the scenes who give their time to ensure the club’s long-term success.

Alexandra Kynman, Scarborough Disabled Swimming Group volunteer

Alexandra Kynman is a special educational needs primary school teacher by day, but every other weekend you will find her in the pool helping people to find joy in the water.

The 25-year-old is a volunteer swimming teacher with one of the largest swimming groups in the UK – Scarborough Disabled Swimming Group.

Based at Scarborough Sports Village, the group offers fortnightly sessions on Saturdays for people of all ages with a disability. Twenty-nine volunteers help to provide a safe, pleasant environment. Their roles include assisting and encouraging swimmers and helping to organise galas, social and fundraising events.

Alexandra, who joined almost 12 months ago and enjoys delivering specialist sessions and activities, said: “It has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience to provide support to people to manage their condition and strength. We encourage swimmers of all ages and disabilities to gain confidence in the water, learn to swim and develop their skills.

“Every person is unique, and it is this diversity that matters during every session. However, it’s not just swimmers who benefit, it’s volunteers as well who like to get involved and experience working with people with specialist needs and gain important qualifications.

“There’s an amazing sense of achievement to know that I have helped people achieve the simplest of things, which sometimes can be a huge milestone.”

Alistair Wilson, Carers Plus Stepping Out volunteer

Getting out and about might seem easy, but for those who have lost a loved one or suffer from mental health issues it can be anything but. That is why people like Alistair Wilson have such an important role to play. 

Alistair, 68 and from Scarborough, is a volunteer for Carers Plus Yorkshire and is involved with the Stepping Out initiative, which organises walks for people who might not otherwise get out and meet people.

Since retirement, Alistair has made volunteering a key part of his life, helping Wetwheels Yorkshire by taking people with disabilities and those with additional needs out on the sea and becoming a telephone befriender. Now he is helping Stepping Out to become a success. 

"Everyone who wants to come is welcome, whether they are lonely or have a disability for example," he said. "We have people in their twenties to their eighties. We started with about four people and now we regularly get around 15 to 16. We do different walks all the time - North Bay, Peasholm Park, the esplanade or we might go round one of the local meres. It is so good to see a smile on someone's face who might not have spoken to someone for three or four days. I get so much out of seeing these people come out of their shells."

Alyson Davies, Nidderdale Plus digital champion

For Alyson Davies, volunteering gives her a chance to help people learn a little more about life in the twenty-first century with the advent of the digital age. 

A retired further education teacher, she volunteers as a digital champion, sharing her skills and experience at weekly coffee, click and connect events which are staged by the Nidderdale Plus Community Hub. 

Alyson, who lives in Hampsthwaite, near Harrogate, said: "A lot of learners are nervous with technology at the start, but it is a very relaxed atmosphere. Occasionally people just drop in to solve a particular problem but, for others it is a social thing as well. Some come with a notebook of questions and others might want to just listen in and chat about they have been trying out."

Digital champions help people with anything from getting to grips with WhatsApp and email to placing orders online and sharing photographs. 

Alyson added: "A number of people we have worked with have relatives abroad, so learning how to make a free video call has been good for people to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. Last week we had a lady who had not been able to access the online surgery system to sort out her prescription, but she came in and we sorted it out. She was just so pleased because now she can do it without having to ring up. Helping people overcome challenges is something I find very rewarding. It is a nice way to get out, meet people and hear their stories."

A volunteer smiling and helping a man use his smartphone.

Maureen Wood, Eggborough Methodist Church volunteer

Eggborough Methodist Church is a true hive of activity. It is so much more than simply a place of worship. For the local community, it has become a vital hub at a time when the pace of modern life can leave some people feeling isolated. 

After the building on Selby Road was renovated in 2015, a conscious effort was made to reach out to villagers, in particular the elderly. Their coffee buildings, film clubs, line dancing and tea and tunes events have proved a huge success, with hundreds of people having attended over the years. In colder months, the church has also operated a warm space, enabling people to reduce their heating bills a little during the cost of living crisis. 

Volunteer Maureen Wood has lived in Eggborough all her life and knows the value of the services the church offers. 

"The people who come to these events love them," she said. "A lot of them live on their own. They come to our events and they may not know anyone, but we make them feel very welcome. They might not know everyone's name the next time they come, but everyone knows theirs."

Maureen, 73, added: "If I see someone looking at the noticeboard outside, I will say 'have you been to our coffee morning?' and if they say 'no', I will say 'well come, you will not be sat on your own'. I do enjoy it and I would miss it if it were not there."

Siobhan Moore, Community Works respite sitting service volunteer

When it comes to volunteering, Siobhan Moore has a simple message.

"If you have kindness, compassion and common sense, go for it. Do not think about it, do it."

Siobhan, 69 and a children and families social worked in Middlesborough for 30 years, is a carers respite sitting service volunteer with Community Works, a service for people in need in and around the Thirsk area. 

"I met the first couple that I was hoping to be able to support the day after I retired. It is unknown in their culture to consider and trust having support from a stranger. The expectation is that families will look after one another. Their daughter said to me, 'for mum to go out and trust you to look after dad is huge'. It was a privilege to keep the husband company while his wife went out and had a bit of free time. I did that twice a week until he died."

Siobhan said she loves meeting people, all of whom enrich her life as much as she does theirs. 

"Volunteering is not entirely altruistic. It is for the feeling that it gives you as a human being - that you are contributing something useful to their lives. Everybody has skills and they can be brought into volunteering. All you need is kindness, patience and time."

Siobhan Moore sitting outside with a dog.

Bev Lawrence, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teaching support volunteer

Bev Lawrence, who lives in Richmond, has employed her vast experience as a teacher to help refugees from countries including Syria, Iraq, the Sudan and Afghanistan.

Bev, who retired from her 38-year teaching career in 2015, is a teaching support volunteer for the English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) courses which are held in her hometown. She has been supporting the English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes for the past six years and volunteers for up to four hours every Monday, working alongside a teacher, Cath McNeil, at Richmond Town Hall.

Bev said: “It has been a great experience and it has been inspirational working with these people who have come to a new country to make their home here. The lessons not only teach them a new language, but they give a structure and a value for how they can understand British society. Coming to North Yorkshire has given them the chance to integrate into communities that have been so welcoming, and it is a totally different experience to one that they would have perhaps had if they had arrived in a big city or town. I have loved the opportunities that volunteering has given me, as it makes me feel that I am able to give something back to society after all the experience I gathered during my career as a teacher.”


Alex Callaghan, library volunteer

For 16-year-old Alex Callaghan, what began as work experience has grown into something that might well become a lifelong commitment to volunteering. Alex, from Scarborough, has been a regular volunteer at the town’s library for about 10 months, switching to Filey library to carry on his good work during the recent major refurbishment of the Scarborough branch. Looking to the library for work experience was a natural choice for Alex, as his father, Fred, works for our library service. Alex’s role sees him supporting customers and staff in everything from shelving books to providing IT support and helping to organise events.

“Obviously, it looks good on my CV,” he joked. “But I get personal fulfilment out of helping people and getting involved with the community. I have learned a lot about customer service and working as part of a team in a kind of retail environment. A personal highlight was helping two elderly gentlemen who were computer-illiterate. I helped them through the process of printing their plane tickets to Singapore. That was very rewarding, because they had no idea of what they were doing. I like libraries. I have always used them, throughout my life. I think it’s crucial that they stay open and that people keep going into them.”

Alex fits his volunteering around studies at Scarborough Sixth Form College, where he is working towards A Levels in maths, further maths, physics and history with a view to a university degree in aeronautical engineering. His volunteering has gone beyond work experience and he intends to carry on until next Easter, after which he will need to switch his focus full-time to his exams. But this is unlikely to be the end of volunteering for Alex.

“It is definitely a thing that I’ll continue doing if there is somewhere that I think needs it or where I would like to help out,” he said. “It is important, because money is always tight for many organisations, so any help is appreciated.”

North Yorkshire Council’s libraries interim general manager, Hazel Smith, said: “Library volunteering is a rewarding and sociable way to get involved in your local community. We have volunteers of all ages fulfilling roles such as general assistant, IT buddy, home library volunteer, local studies volunteer and various opportunities to help with children’s events and activities."

"For some, volunteering is a great way to stay connected with their communities or stay active and engaged after retirement and for others, particularly young people like Alex, it is an opportunity to gain valuable work experience and learn new skills.”

Diane Clarke, Selby Abbey volunteer

When Diane Clarke approached Selby Abbey to offer her City and Guilds standard flower-arranging skills, she found herself being offered a role in the café instead. That was more than three years ago, and while Diane occasionally helps out with the flower displays, she has found a niche which allows her to use some of the skills she acquired in her professional career as a financial analyst.

She was promoted to manage the café and gift shop, a voluntary role which frequently sees her working onsite during busy weekend periods, while doing more back-room work at home to make sure the operation runs smoothly, with shelves stocked, ingredients ordered for the kitchen and staff rotas drawn up.

“I enjoy myself, because this job brings back a lot of what I did. I enjoyed it then and I still do,” she said.

She is responsible for a team of around a dozen volunteers who keep the café and gift shop running. They have responsibilities for crucial areas like hygiene, reflecting the trust placed on those who give up their time to help out. Work has now started to expand beyond the ‘traditional’ volunteering roles, often taken up by those in retirement. So in future, it is hoped that people with special educational needs will be among those taking up volunteer roles at Selby Abbey, to help to provide them with experience in the community.

Work experience opportunities are also expected to be offered, through colleges in the area, to help students spend time in a working environment, which could make an important contribution to their CVs.

“Volunteering is a great way to meet people. You can do good for them and it is rewarding,” Mrs Clarke said.

The vicar of Selby Abbey, Canon John Weetman, said there were around 100 volunteers – in an age-range from nine to 90s – providing a huge range of support.

“Our volunteers are absolutely essential. We would not be able to operate without them,” he said.

They range from greeters and tour guides, to bell-ringers, choir members and clergy who take some services. While some volunteer their time because of their faith, others do to help support the wider community reflecting the wide-ranging welcome and variety of opportunities and activities that Selby Abbey provides.

Gabby Parsons, Ready for Anything volunteer

Gabby Parsons is among the team of Ready for Anything volunteers who provide invaluable help with the emergency response during major incidents and practical support to people whose lives have been affected. 

Gabby lives in Whitwell-on-the-Hill between York and Malton and has been a Ready for Anything volunteer for about five years, and her role has seen her helping support communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said: “I used to work in the care sector, so I like to keep an eye out for people and make sure they’re OK. I’ve had one call out to go check on somebody in Covid because a relative was worried about them and they weren’t answering the phone. When I got to the door, he was just fed up of them ringing all the time and had unplugged it! So I just reported back that he was absolutely fine. One of the things I really enjoy is helping with training sessions for the emergency services. We all evaluate what could have been done better so you learn a lot about how you can help people. How would the emergency services train if they didn’t have volunteers like us?”

Initially established in York following the Boxing Day floods of 2015, the Ready for Anything project has since been extended into North Yorkshire. There are now more than 300 volunteers involved in the initiative in York and North Yorkshire.


On the camaraderie between Ready for Anything volunteers, Mrs Parsons, who is a mother to three grown-up sons, said: “It’s nice to do something when you’re with lots of other people and the atmosphere is always brilliant. I like being part of something and everybody is so friendly.”

Her message to anyone thinking of volunteering is to simply give it a go. 

Mrs Parsons said: “I’d say just try it. I do other things as well, like cleaning the signposts in the village. If I’ve got lots of eggs, I’ll do a baking day and make buns for everyone. We had a wonderful Jubilee celebration last year. I just like doing stuff and feel very passionate about the area. When they ask for your nationality on a form, I always put Yorkshire!"

“When I was 16 and left home, I went to work on a pig farm. A local family took me under their wing and I used to go down for a couple of meals every week and I’d call in after work so I could have a bath. When it was teatime the other three children and I used to get sent out with meals for the older people round the village. They taught me about community and how it should be. People looking out for each other. It would be lovely if we can get more people doing that and talking to each other again. My motto has always been to just be kind.”

Paul Freestone and Shirley Smith, North Yorkshire Rotters

Partners Paul Freestone and Shirley Smith have decades of experience as keen gardeners to make them ideally placed to advise people eager to do their bit for the environment.

Paul, 65, became a North Yorkshire Rotter five years ago, after retiring as a teacher. Shirley, 67, joined him when she retired from her job as a medical secretary. 

Our Rotters are volunteers from across North Yorkshire who highlight practical ways to reduce, reuse and recycle waste, offering advice on topics including home composting and food waste. The couple are passionate about gardening and have a third of an acre at their home in Whitby.

“We have poured 25 years into the garden, so it’s just about getting how we want it,” said Ms Smith. Mr Freestone added: “Just another 25 to go.”

He continued: “The Rotters’ ethos is something I believe in strongly. I am a keen environmentalist, so I thought this is something I really want to do.”

His partner added: “It is something close to our hearts. We feel we want to give something back. So many people at shows will come along and say they’ve got a compost bin, but it’s too wet or too dry, so we can give them advice to make a better job of it. We find it very rewarding.”

“We can use our personal experience,” said Mr Freestone. “We have been gardening for many years and we feel that part of the volunteering role is educating those who need that extra little help. It’s very rewarding, as well, because you do meet people from all walks of life. They, too, would like to do their bit, so it is rewarding to know we are pointing people in the right direction.”

The couple have done shows, talks and workshops with everyone from Scouts and schools to Women’s Institute groups. And they travel to other parts of the county, too, including Harrogate Flower Show recently.

“We go anywhere they want us,” said Mr Freestone.

Rotters can give as much or as little time as they are able, and the group is keen to welcome new volunteers on the coast. Anyone interested can find out more from our Rotters volunteering page.

Tim and Jonny Mottram, Conyngham Hall Kiosk volunteers

For 25-year-old Jonny Mottram volunteering allows him to meet new people.
For the people he serves coffee and cakes he brings chatter and laughter... and sometimes music! And for the managers of the Kiosk at Conyngham Hall he is one of a vital band of people that keep the Knaresborough facility open for refreshments, tennis and crazy golf.

Jonny, who has Down’s syndrome, had been a regular at Community Stars in Harrogate – a venture which encourages people with learning difficulties into work. When they asked if he and his father, Tim, would work at the Kiosk every Friday, they jumped at the idea.

“Jonny loves variety – he doesn’t like to do the same thing every day and at the kiosk he enjoys handing out golf clubs and tennis rackets and meeting and talking with the customers. He sorts out the crazy golf and pitch and putt course and sees people on to the tennis courts. He is very good at cheering people up – he loves to talk to them and if they are lucky he will do some rapping, another of his passions!”

Jonny, who lives with Tim and mum Heidi in Easingwold, says the kiosk is “an amazing place to go to and work at.”

“We have always wanted to give Jonny the opportunity to have a go at everything – and he is always keen to help other people too. We are very proud of him in everything he does – it would be so easy for him to sit at home on a PlayStation, but that’s not for him,” said Tim, who does his share of volunteering, too.

Clare Robinson, co-founder of Community Stars, which is run in partnership with Chain Lane Community Hub, said: “Volunteers like Jonny and Tim are vital – we couldn’t operate the kiosk without them. Jonny and Tim are a great team – they bring joy, warmth and laughter to Fridays. Jonny loves working on the sports side as he can do that independently. In the volunteer world we are all friends – and at Community Stars we want to give everyone an opportunity to work together and give something back to the local community.”

Val Stewart, Craven museum volunteer

Few people will understand the responsibilities and rewards of volunteering better than Val Stewart. Not only has Val, who lives in Skipton, undertaken a wide variety of volunteering roles during her life, but spent 14 years as volunteer co-ordinator for Carers’ Resource in the area, managing the needs of volunteers and the people they supported. She recruited, trained, supported and placed volunteers and made sure they were happy.

“Volunteers did everything from helping run a huge Edwardian garden fete at Broughton Hall to every month turning out to run lunch groups and coffee mornings around the area for the unpaid carers,” she said.

“Carers Resource supported family carers, so the husband looking after the wife who was ill, the daughter looking after mum, etcetera. It was a very wide-ranging charity. We dealt with child carers right through to an 80-year-old lady who was looking after her mother. “For a volunteer, the pay is getting what they need out of it, whether that is gaining work experience, building up friendships or getting confidence. It’s a volunteer co-ordinator’s job to try to ensure that they get what they need, otherwise they leave.”

Val’s own volunteering roles have ranged from four years with Samaritans to a classroom assistant to helping at a stroke unit and the RSPB peregrine falcon watch at Malham Cove. Since retiring in 2022, Val, 65, volunteers at Craven Museum, Skipton, as well as front of house at The Folly in Settle.

“I have moved around a lot,” she said. “So it is a way of meeting people, but it is also a way of learning about things that I wouldn’t overwise have much contact with and using skills that maybe your job doesn’t use.”

At the museum, she is part of a team cataloguing the collections, currently working on social history objects – everything from police shackles to medical equipment to jewellery.

“I have always been interested in history, but always thought I was useless at it because in my day you were taught history as dates and battles,” she said. “That never really grabbed me, but I have now discovered social history, so I am thoroughly enjoying it.”

Jenny Hill, museum and collections lead at Craven Museum, said: “The work that volunteers like Val do really helps us to be able to keep sharing stories from the museum collection and to make it accessible for visitors and researchers. It also helps us to conserve and protect the collection for the future. We are incredibly grateful for all the help and support from volunteers.” 

Val believes anyone who wants to volunteer should be able to find something to suit them.

“If somebody has the time, they will probably find something that interests them, whether it is working with steam railways or sitting on the end of the phone listening to someone in real despair, as I have done,” she said. “It is whatever you find fulfilling.”