Read the news and features from around North Yorkshire in NY Now.

With just days to go before the Tour de Yorkshire arrives in town, we’ve put together a snapshot of some of the wild and wonderful celebrations taking place along the route.


Stage two. Friday, May 3


The women’s race is expected to cross the finish line on the Market Place between 12.33pm and 12.55pm. A few hours later, the men’s race will reach the finish line, between 5.45pm and 6.05pm.

The church bells at St Gregory’s Church will ring in welcome as both sets of riders cross the finish line and the church will hold a special service and blessing at the start of the day.

Bedale has planned a day of celebrations to mark the event; the first time it has hosted a finish point during the Tour de Yorkshire.

Bedale Park will host family-friendly activities throughout the day with food stalls, fairground rides, stalls and a big screen showing the race. From 7.30pm there will be live music with the Chris Berry Band performing music from the 1960s to the present day. Celebrations will be rounded off with fireworks at 9.30pm.

Between the men and women’s race finishes, there will also be entertainment on the Market Place, including a bicycle parade and best-dressed bicycle judging, music by Bedale Brass Band, Northallerton Longsword dancers and a “silly bikes” display.

At 3pm amateur cyclists on the Ride the Route cycle ride will cross the finish line.

The 20-mile fun event starts and finishes in Bedale, heading down to the A6055 at Leeming Bar and looping back again. The race is raising money for the Tour de Yorkshire’s official charity, Help for Heroes and Prostate Cancer UK.

During the afternoon, there will also be a brief Makaton training session for the finish line crowd.

Makaton involves using signs and symbols with spoken words to help adults and children with learning or speech difficulties and Bedale was recently named the UK’s second Makaton Friendly town. 

In addition to street decorations, pieces of land art are planned, which should be picked up by helicopters filming the race.

Mowbray School is creating a piece of artwork on its school field and pupils from Bedale Primary School are working with the towns Golf Club for land art on the 18th fairway.

Bedale High School has spent the last few weeks collecting donations of old trainers, which will be used to create a piece of the Tour’s formal land art.

The trainers have been donated by pupils, staff and the wider Bedale community, with drop-off points at the local Co-op store and at the school. The artwork is being created in conjunction with artist Mackenzie Thorpe, one of Britain’s bestselling artists, whose Arthaus Gallery is in Richmond.

Wensleydale Railway will offer visitors a park and ride service from its stations at Leeming Bar and Redmire, with £5 to park and travel between Leeming Bar and £8 for Redmire park and ride.

Stage 4. Sunday, May 5

Kirby Malzeard

When the Tour de Yorkshire passed through Kirkby Malzeard, near Ripon, last year, people of all ages came together to stage a day of celebrations. It proved so successful in uniting the community, that this year another celebration will take place.

The party will kick off about 11am with Reeth Brass Band, who will perform throughout the day, and a procession of vintage vehicles parading through the village.

Central to the village activities will be the Best Dressed House Competition, which last year attracted 107 entries from Kirkby’s 300 houses. The contest, which is run by Kirkby Malzeard WI, will offer prizes provided by local businesses.

There will also be art and photography exhibitions in St Andrew’s Church and Kirkby Malzeard Methodist Chapel, land art from local school pupils, “bike” art by resident Stephen Weld, a raffle and other events. The Queens Head pub will provide food and a bouncy castle throughout the day and evening.

There will be children’s cycling races and other sports events on Highside Village Playing Fields, which will also host a barbecue. The day’s race can be viewed on a large screen in the Mechanics’ Institute, where there will be home-cooked food and drink.

There will also be bacon butties and drinks for everyone watching the riders pass through the village. The main race is due to arrive at about 3.15pm.

“This year we are building on the tremendous success of Le Tour day last year, when all the village turned out to enjoy the activities and cheer on all the riders as they came up our long Main Street,” said Alan Brownlee, chair of Kirkby Malzeard’s Le Tour Committee. 

He added: “We created a real village feel last year so everyone could promenade with not a car in sight, just like the old days.”


The race caravan is expected to stop briefly in the Market Place at 1.55pm, before the race’s arrival at 3.15pm.

In the Market Square there will be a giant piece of Tour de Yorkshire artwork, created by Masham CE VA School and professional artist Robert Blades. There will also be outdoor refreshments throughout the town, a big screen showing the race and a craft fair at Masham Town Hall.

There will also be a 1km Black Sheep Straight cycle ride, the first rider to pass through the men’s straight in Masham and the women’s straight at West Tanfield, will win their height in beer, with cases of Black Sheep bottled beers.


There will be entertainment, including live music, outside Coverdale’s community pub, The Foresters Arms. Inside Coverdale Memorial Hall there will be refreshments, including bacon rolls, cakes and hot drinks from 10am and live screening of the race.

Race times and road closures

Find full details of race times and road closures.

Volunteers play a vital part in delivering critical services to the most vulnerable people in our county. In honour of their efforts, we have launched this year’s community awards and it’s time to nominate your local heroes.

Exclusively Inclusive were the winners of the 2018 Best Community Group category. The voluntary group from the Skipton area organises social events to help people overcome isolation.

One group member said: “If Exclusively Inclusive didn’t exist, I don’t know what I’d be doing. The group really does help me feel that I belong and set me on the path to friendship.”

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The awards, now in their fifth year, honour local people and organisations that make a difference in the community.

Nominations are now being accepted in four categories: Best Community Group, Best Community Project, Volunteer of the Year and Young People Volunteering Award.

“We were very excited to learn that we had been nominated for the award,” said the group organiser for Exclusively Inclusive, Katie Peacock. “It felt amazing to be part of a group of people who had been nominated for their contributions to their communities. There was such a buzz of excitement, accomplishment and celebration as well as an overriding desire to continue and develop our community work.”

Every Friday, the group runs Rendezvous sessions, which can include making gifts, crafts and writing articles for the Craven Gazette. They also organise Come Dine With Me evenings, inclusive club nights and regular trips.

“Winning the award reinforced that people can organise things for themselves,” said Katie. “We have such a strong asset-based community development ethos it is proof that rather than working within the current parameters, we can – and do – push limits to find ways to include and welcome all members of our community.

“We believe that the award has raised our profile across North Yorkshire and hopefully encouraged others to try something similar in their area.”

Although they aim to keep costs to group members to a minimum, they acknowledge how important the £1,000 prize money has been. With so many people benefitting from the service, they strive to keep the group running.

The closing date for community awards nominations is 7 June 2019. Nomination forms can be completed online. Anybody unable to access the website can call 01609 780780.

The winner of each category will receive £1,000 for the project, group or nominated relevant local charity in the case of the volunteer awards. Two runners-up in each category will receive £250.

The Whitby Sheds project is one of more than 6,000 listings on North Yorkshire Connect, which helps people to find information about help and support where they live.

We’re inviting more community and voluntary organisations that support those at risk of loneliness and isolation to take advantage of the community directory, which is also a valuable tool for professionals who are signposting to local services.

Graham Storer, who is involved in the Whitby Sheds project, said: “Men’s Sheds are welcoming places where people come and spend time together. They do practical and creative work and they exist to help men and women fill in some of the gaps in their lives.

“One of the challenges for a community organisation like ours is letting people know what we do and how they can get involved. It’s not always easy for people to find help and support, even in their local area. North Yorkshire Connect is great for that.”

North Yorkshire is a large rural county and social isolation can be an issue. Up to a fifth of all UK adults feel lonely most or all of the time, with evidence showing that loneliness can be as bad for health as obesity or smoking.

Marie-Ann Jackson, head of our stronger communities programme, said: “We’re very fortunate in North Yorkshire to have a huge variety of resources in our communities, but it can be difficult to find information that is trustworthy and up-to date.

“Likewise, some of these groups find it hard to promote themselves and make a connection with those who might benefit from their support. I would encourage anyone who is involved with a community group or organisation to add a listing to North Yorkshire Connect.

“We’ve made significant improvements to the search facility following user feedback and it’s quick, easy and free to add a listing. With over 1,000 page views every week, having a listing on North Yorkshire Connect will most definitely benefit community groups, services, clubs and organisations and help customers find them more easily.”

If you run a community group, service or voluntary organisation you can add a listing here.

Ever fancied the idea of getting fit through cycling but been put off by the Lycra and protein bars involved? One woman who survived breast cancer is taking up cycling so she can embark on a 300-mile London to Paris bike ride for breast cancer charities.


“I only took cycling up when I signed up for the challenge,” said Catherine Ross, from Bedale.

“I always watched the Tour de Yorkshire and my husband is also into cycling. The more we have been involved in the Tour de Yorkshire, the more I thought it would be a really good way of getting fit. It’s a challenge. It’s out of my comfort zone and helps me give something back to breast cancer charities.”

Catherine, 48, an Implementation and Change officer with North Yorkshire County Council’s technology department, said she had enjoyed cycling as a teenager, but had put her hobby to one side since then – until this year.

This year she celebrates ten years of being free from cancer, after being diagnosed in 2009. Now she wants to mark her milestone and help others by raising money for cancer charities.

When Catherine signed up for the Women V Cancer cycle challenge, she didn’t even own a bike. Now she is fully immersed in the hobby.

Catherine said she considered many of the obstacles that cross many people’s minds when considering cycling as a sport – road safety and the thought of wearing head to toe Lycra and what bike to buy, but had some great advice for anyone wondering whether to take up the sport.

“I brought Sir Chris Hoy’s book, How to Ride a Bike, which was full of really good advice. For my early days of training I have stuck to quieter roads and chosen times to go out when I know roads won’t be busy, such as Sunday mornings,” she said.

“If you’re starting out with cycling as a hobby, I would also advise you start your first rides at the right time of year, when the weather is good.  I started in October, when it wasn’t very appealing going out; there’s certainly nothing more off-putting than heading out in a wind.”

Catherine is raising money for Women V Cancer, which raises funds for Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action.

“I wanted to raise money for these charities and also complete a personal challenge for me,” explained Catherine.

“I’ll be going from not having ridden a bike for years to taking on a bike ride of nearly 400km.”

She has joined the County Council’s Cycle to Work scheme, cycling 20 miles to and from work twice a week, and is following the Women V Cancer training routine, building up her miles gradually.

“I was surprised just how much I’ve loved just getting out on my bike, I thought it would feel like a chore. There’s a lot to be said for getting out in the fresh air, it really helps you enjoy the countryside. There are also a lot of benefits, it’s a low impact sport but gets you fit quickly and cycling home from work is a great way to clear your head; I’d recommend it as a sport to anyone.”

The three-day women-only challenge begins in London in early September, setting off from Hampton Court in London on September 5 and cycling 116km to Portsmouth and the ferry terminal for an overnight ferry to Caen. Day 2 involves cycling 136km from Caen to Evreux and the final day will see the cyclists taking on a final 137km ride to reach Paris.

Catherine is organising cake bakes and other fundraising initiatives to cover her costs during the cycle ride and to ensure all the money she raises goes to the chosen cancer charities.

To sponsor Catherine visit:

In our ongoing series showcasing some of the diverse volunteer work happening in the heart of our communities, we speak to Allan Skilbeck, one of the hundreds of volunteers who will be making sure the Tour de Yorkshire runs smoothly when it races through the county in May.


“The whole purpose of the Tour Makers is summed up by a phrase used in most marshalling roles: safety, security, smile,” explains Allan.

This year will be his fourth as a volunteer at the Tour de Yorkshire, and he wouldn’t miss it for the world. He says volunteering at a live sports event such as the Tour de Yorkshire provides plenty of challenges, but is hugely rewarding. 

 “If you enjoy mixing with people, it’s great. You’re also doing something useful as well. You need to be very professional – it’s a very professionally run event.

“But as well as mixing with people and having a laugh with the crowd, you’re also doing something useful.

“I’ve volunteered at many different locations, Leeds, Driffield, Ripon, and there’s a lot of people go to see it; an awful lot of people. It makes for a wonderful atmosphere.”

At this year’s event, Allan will be working during the first three stages of the race, at Pocklington, Ripon and Hunmanby. For the first two days of the race his role will be in spectator engagement.

His job will be to make sure spectators watch the race safely, that there are no bags or flags hanging over the barrier that could catch a cyclist’s handlebars, that dogs are under control, as well as looking out for lost children, potential hazards and a myriad of other issues that arise when thousands of people attend a live sporting event.

It’s a lot of responsibility, and on the third day of the race, when it passes through Hunmanby, near the North Yorkshire coast, Allan’s responsibility will increase when he takes on the role of deputy supervisor.

The role comes with plenty of training, when tour organisers show them the routes and sprint locations and describe the volunteers’ responsibilities. Further training is conducted by police and the system is in place for getting police assistance if needed on the day.

Allan, 72, decided to volunteer after retiring. He had previously worked as a lighting salesman, travelling the country, and then as an HGV driver.

“I’m not really into cycling, or any sport in particular. But I retired a few years ago and looked at what I could do and thought I could get involved with this. I’m now an accredited rally marshal and in all I volunteer at about 15 to 20 sports events a year,” he said.

“We are the eyes and ears of the event.”

Last year’s race attracted 2.6m spectators to the road side. This year’s race is expected to attract similar numbers over the 384-mile men’s race and 164-mile women’s race. Thanks to volunteers like Allan, every one of those spectators should be enjoying a great day out.

Tell us your volunteering stories

Volunteers are the lifeblood of communities in North Yorkshire and we’re blessed to have so many people willing and able to give their time to help others. Each year, we recognise the county’s volunteers in our Community Awards. We want to share your stories all year round on these pages. We want to know where you volunteer, why you do it and what difference it makes to you and those around you.

If you or someone you know has a volunteering story to share, contact us at

March edition

2019 is shaping up to be a brilliant year for cycling, with the Tour de Yorkshire in May and UCI road world championships in September.

That’s great news for cycling fans, but even for all of us who don’t know our Froome from our Valverde, it’s a perfect opportunity to celebrate our communities and our pride in our home county – and it’s good for business.

That’s why we’re running our “I love the Tour de Yorkshire” campaign.

People have been telling us why they love the Tour and you can hear their reasons in the videos on YouTube


Now we’d like to know why you love the Tour. Is it the thrill of the race, the spectacle of the crowds that line the route, the fabulous decorations in towns and villages?

Visit our Facebook post and add a comment to tell us why you love the Tour de Yorkshire.

This year, North Yorkshire will again play a significant part in the four-day event, which takes place between Thursday, 2 May, and Sunday, 5 May.

As with previous events, we are working with partners, including event organisers Welcome to Yorkshire and Amaury Sports Organisation, district councils and emergency services, on a highways operation to host the race while maintaining vital access for local residents, visitors and businesses.

Read more details, including the race routes.

Ever wondered if you could do more for the environment when it comes to rubbish? Did you know you can recycle that single shoe at the back of your cupboard? Or find a new home for your old wooden table? We speak to Raff Massa, team leader at Leyburn Household Waste Recycling Centre, about how we can recycle more.

At Leyburn HWRC, situated just outside the town, Raff Massa and his colleagues are on hand to show people what can be recycled as they arrive at the centre off Shawl Quarry Lane.

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Raff says the days of waste dumps and tips are long gone.

Raff explains: "What general waste there is goes to Allerton Waste Recovery Park, but we aim to get the amount of general waste down to a very small percentage. The vast majority of what comes in here can be recycled."

Part of Raff’s job is to ensure people are aware just how much of what they bring in can be recycled at the North Yorkshire County Council centres, which are managed by Yorwaste on behalf of the council.

Raff said they have managed to increase the amount of waste recycled by showing people what can be recycled when they arrive at the site.

“When people arrive they often say, ‘this is just landfill’. We explain to people that the cables in there, glass bottles and other things they’ve brought can all be recycled.

“We’re trying to encourage people to be a bit more observant about what they’re throwing away. It also really helps if people can separate out things like metals, plastics and glass before they arrive.”

Some of the items that can be recycled at your local centre may come as a surprise.

They include used cooking oil, which is taken away by a private company to be turned into biofuel – also preventing oil being poured down drains and contributing to “fat bergs” in the sewerage system.

All those odds and ends cluttering up drawers and cupboards at home are also likely to find a home at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. Mirrors and picture frames can be passed on for re-use from Leyburn HWRC – collected by a company which specialises in refurbishing bric-a-brac items to sell on.

Textiles and clothing can also be recycled – even if they’re not in a good enough state to send on to charity shops.

"Good clothing can be reused," explains Raff. "and as long as the material is dry it can be recycled. Various types of material can be recycled; dust covers, painting sheets, even old, torn clothes can be turned into carpet underlay."

Other items that can be recycled at HWRC centres include;

  • Electricals. Anything with a plug, battery-operated or solar-powered can be recycled, from a torch to a fireplace. Cables are also recycled and sent to a local company for recycling.
  • Engine oil.
  • Light bulbs, including fluorescent strip lights.
  • Old fire extinguishers.
  • Gas bottles.
  • Books, DVDs and CDs, which go to the British Heart Foundation.
  • Timber, glass and plastic bottles, cardboard and garden waste.
  • Scrap metal and fridges.

See a full list of what can be taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC), whether for recycling or otherwise.

When it comes to wedding venues, North Yorkshire has it all. Whether it’s a grand stately home or candle-lit barn, North Yorkshire has a venue to suit every taste and interest.

We have licensed more than 150 venues for weddings across the county, ranging from stately homes and top hotels to some truly unique settings, including an historic theatre and a heritage railway station.

Robin Mair, our general manager of registration, archives and coroners, is in charge of registering venues for weddings.

He said they were seeing a large increase in rural venues applying for registration, in keeping with a current trend for ceremonies in countryside settings.

“There’s a very distinctive trend away from Cinderella, fairy-tale type weddings to something more rural,” he said.

“We’re looking at a lot of weddings at the moment taking place on farms and in barns, where the wedding breakfast might be a barbecue, followed by a party.

“We also have theatres, village halls and big hotels. We have an excellent range of venues; from high-end locations where it’s £50,000-plus to secure a booking and you can helicopter your guests in, to something more reasonably priced.”

He said a lot of people from outside North Yorkshire were getting married in the county, many prompted by family links they have here, or fond memories of childhood holidays. He said this was good for the local economy.

“This isn’t just good for our hotels and other venues; a wedding brings with it a boost to the whole of the local economy,” he said.

“Wedding guests will spend money locally, whether it’s by booking accommodation over a weekend, or just a coffee or meal.”

Andrew Wilsher-Gawthorpe married his partner Trevor Wilsher-Gawthorpe at Rudding Park Hotel in Harrogate.

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Andrew and Trevor both live in London, but Andrew is originally from Denby Dale and was very keen to get married in Yorkshire. He discovered the Grade I-listed regency house almost by accident and knew straight away it would be the perfect location for their wedding.

“I had always said if I got married it would be back up in Yorkshire. The venues are nicer, you get more for your money and the people are friendly,” he said.

“We spent probably a good three months going back and forth with my mum and stepdad, driving round, looking at different venues. We had stopped at Rudding Park to have something to eat – as soon as we drove down the drive we saw the house and chapel and it just ticked all the boxes straight away.” 

The couple held their wedding ceremony and reception in the regency house and held a non-religious blessing in the gothic chapel in July 2015.

Andrew said: “It was a great venue. The staff were exceptionally helpful. There was absolutely no way we could afford everything we had if the wedding was held in London.

“We wanted a castle or country house because we are only doing this once, so Rudding Park ticked that box. It was that, the location, the buildings and just the setting itself that led to us choosing it. There was also a good mix of hotels in the area for guests and transport for those travelling from London or beyond was easy because it involved a straight train to Leeds, then Harrogate and a short taxi ride.

“There were loads of special moments during the wedding. Everybody beforehand said make sure you step back and look around and take in your surroundings because it will be over and done before you know it. We kept doing that.”

Andrew added: “I don’t think there was anything I would have changed about it. We’re thinking of going back for our fifth or tenth wedding anniversary.”

In the first of an ongoing series showcasing some of the wonderful volunteering work at the heart of our communities, we hear from Pauline Percival. Pauline, 61, lives with her husband just outside Ripon, is a keen gardener and has been a volunteer with the North Yorkshire Rotters for more than 12 years. As spring brings new growth, Pauline talks about helping people to make the most of their gardens.

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“My parents got into recycling and reusing in the 1970s and passed it onto us as children, so I’ve just followed their path, really. From their perspective, it was primarily about saving money. My father in particular was a keen composter, so it’s been part of my life from an early age.

“I like talking to people, most of the time they’ve got a bit of an interest and you can see when a light bulb goes on. Sometimes people have come up to me at events and say they spoke to me the year before and that they’ve really changed their waste habits. It’s a lovely feeling, the passing on of that information and knowing you’re making a difference. That’s the biggest thing for me.

“I’ve found that I do tend to work with the same people over a period of time and you do become friends. We have a great laugh and I joke. I also feel like I’m helping to mentor people in a sort of way, because I’ve been doing it for so long. I really want people who join the Rotters to have as good an experience as I do.

“Aside from the Rotters I help other people with their gardens on an advisory basis, producing and growing plants. I did a course about ten years ago and it transformed my interest in gardening. I’ve got two at the moment that I’m helping with. One is a holiday cottage and the other is at Crakehall.

“I find being outside and seeing things growing really helpful for my mental health. You can see the seasons changing and it just gives you that hope and positivity for the coming year.

“I play golf now, too, which I started a few years ago. Because a lot of us are new to it, two or three years at the most, we don’t feel confident enough to go into the competitions with people who have been playing for 30 years, so all the beginners have a monthly fun competition and a social gathering at the end. We’ve had one at Ripon, Masham and we’re about to play at Cave Castle in April. Our team name is Chip and Sip!

“I find that in the same way as being in the garden golf is really helpful because you’re outside in the open air and you’re socialising with friends. It’s been a big positive in my life.”

Tell us your volunteering stories

Volunteers are the lifeblood of communities in North Yorkshire and we’re blessed to have so many people willing and able to give their time to help others. Each year, we recognise the county’s volunteers in our Community Awards. We want to share your stories all year round on these pages. We want to know where you volunteer, why you do it and what difference it makes to you and those around you.

If you or someone you know has a volunteering story to share, contact us at

We all know Mr Toad loves the open road.

His thrill at careering along country lanes in car and caravan is immortalised in Wind in the Willows.

But up in Osmotherley Toady takes to the open road for different reasons.

He sits in the road in search of love. 

The open road gives him a toad’s eye view of all the female toads coming down off the moors to cross over to Cod Beck reservoir for the spawning season. 

He can see them so much clearer from the road than among the vegetation where he lives, so he sits and waits for a beloved to pass by.  But waiting can be fatal.  If he lingers too long he tends to get squashed by a passing and unsuspecting motor car. Toad carnage.

So every spring, when the mating season begins, North Yorkshire County Council’s highways office gets a call from the Osmotherley toad patrol and every year an officer goes up to put out the toad signs along the road where it runs above the village between the moor and Cod Beck.  The signs act as a warning to motorists to look out and slow down.

And every evening when it is warm enough during the spring season Osmotherley’s toad patrol volunteers walk up and down the road picking up amorous amphibians to release them safely into the reservoir.

On one particularly frenzied night a few years ago, the patrol picked up 900 toads from the road.  On average, every season, over 3,000 toads, as well as some frogs and newts, are saved from possible death.

Osmotherley is a national toad hot-spot, according to Steve Rogers, who has been in charge of the toad patrol for over 15 years.  In season, Cod Beck has one of the largest toad populations in the country – one of the UK’s top ten according to Froglife.

“The toads tend to come out to mate as dusk falls and the night draws in,” said Steve Rogers.  “And as the road gives the males a much better view of females than when they are among the bracken of the moorland they tend to sit there and wait.  So many of them get squashed, because they are hard to spot in the dark.   In any one year we can lose up to 400 toads on average, which is a tragedy.”

Pat Duggan, another toad patrol stalwart, said: “We are so grateful to the county council for bringing up the signs year after year.  The signs are now up and we hope people will drive with care.”

“We do all we can to make our roads fit for purpose and try to accommodate all road users,” said County Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Highways, “and that includes toads. As soon as they get the call from the toad patrol our officers are only too happy to go up to Osmotherley to put up the signs.  It’s important to protect the wildlife of this beautiful county where we can - and to keep our toads safe when love is in the air.”

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