The fact that Settle has been named one of the country’s most desirable addresses will come as no surprise to residents.
Its response to the pandemic, through initiatives like the pioneering adoption of Rainbow Town status, offering discounts for NHS staff and widespread volunteering, are testament to the kindness the town instinctively offers.
When estate agents crunched information from more than 1,000 locations in England to find the best, Settle was number eight in their national top ten.
One detail researchers may have failed to take into account is the benefit of the Buy Local website, which allows customers to find businesses and place orders online.
While that is not limited to Settle – it was set up across North Yorkshire as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic – the town has embraced the website with enthusiasm, with a baker’s dozen of businesses signed up.
Buy Local makes life easier for shoppers who can put in orders in the knowledge they are getting high-quality goods and services from trusted businesses – while helping to ensure those traders are able to endure the financial pressures lockdowns have brought for many. The website has been widely praised by companies that have signed up.
The County Council launched the website as the pandemic began to unfold early last year and it has proved to be an enormous success.
While Settle’s 13 businesses provide services for that community, they are among hundreds that signed up across the county, offering a diverse range of goods and services to help residents with the difficulties of shopping during lockdown.
While vaccinations and reducing infection rates for coronavirus are providing real hope that a return to normal life could be on the horizon, Buy Local could have longer-term benefits.
It will have helped ensure businesses have survived, maintaining choice for customers and helping to secure the economic prosperity of communities.
One Settle business that signed up to Buy Local is Settle Country Store, which sells goods ranging from outdoor clothing to hardware, pet food and equestrian products.
Manager David Elms said: “We try and cater for our customers’ individual needs and we’ve always done that, even before Covid.”
The shop is part of the Settle Coal Company and has been trading for around three years. David believes the Buy Local website helps to alert potential customers to what they have to offer.
“I think it’s a benefit because a lot of people don’t know that businesses exist,” he said. “It amazes me the amount of people who don’t know the companies that are in their area.
“That’s where the Buy Local site works really well, because it’s just literally local businesses.”
One of North Yorkshire’s public health consultants, Dr Victoria Turner, grew up in Settle and said: “This is a wonderful area for many, many reasons but many of the features which make the area so appealing are shared with other communities across the county.
“That is very true of Buy Local, which has been a real success both here in Settle and across the wider community.
“On a practical level, it benefits both customers and businesses, but it also demonstrates that Team North Yorkshire spirit, people coming together and showing responsibility and kindness for each other.”
That caring approach was also illustrated by Settle’s early adoption of the Rainbow Towns scheme, offering discounts for NHS workers in recognition of their efforts in dealing with the human cost of the pandemic.
North Yorkshire leader Cllr Carl Les said: “Introducing Buy Local was one of our many responses to the pandemic and the problems it created. The fact that so many businesses have signed up demonstrates the desire among our traders to serve their communities.
“It is encouraging that residents have supported the website and, while it may have provided a real assistance to them during the coronavirus period, the hope is that it will have also made some people more aware of the fantastic businesses in their neighbourhoods.”