Those who are familiar with Thirsk know community initiatives rarely receive half-measure in terms of support and the Yarn Bombers craft group is a case in point.
They were borne out of a desire to support the first Tour de Yorkshire cycle race, with just two people working on decorations for the town centre, which were installed at the dead of night to provide residents with a welcome surprise.
The success of that installation ensured the group grew quickly and in the years that followed expanded to include around 70 members, with more waiting to join when the coronavirus restrictions allow for group meetings.
The Yarn Bombers’ popularity means the venue for their main meetings has had to be changed, moving to the town hall where a suitably sized room is available.
Down the years they have used their creativity to mark annual events, like Remembrance Day and Christmas, which is marked with a 20-foot tall knitted tree, which goes up every year.
But they also mark specific events, such as the library’s summer reading challenge for children, and support various charities
When trans-Atlantic rower Jasmine Harrison, who crossed the ocean solo, aged 21, returned to Thirsk with her vessel, the Yarn Bombers created sea-related objects to sell in support of the charities she backed, raising £600.
During the depths of the pandemic, they sought to bring cheer to the lonely by leaving knitted keepsakes, containing messages of hope, which were left attached to trees, fences and in car parks for people to find.
Yarn Bomber Irene Marwood said: “We had some lovely comments from people who had been cheered up by the sight of them.”
On a more directly practical level, members also made masks and scrubs for the James Cook Hospital, as well as items to make staff relaxation areas more comfortable.
However, the group brings benefits beyond decorating the town and supporting charities.
There is huge value in the social interaction members enjoy, as well as the chance to flex their creative muscles.
“It is a social group. We get together people who like doing creative things and I am always impressed by the comments we hear about how valued it is,” said Irene, “particularly from those who live alone.
“Quite a lot of our newer members are people who have retired here. Making things together is a very valuable experience and it is exciting. When we put up a display, it is exciting for us to see how it looks.”