Thirsk's sense of community is enshrined in fiction and in fact

It may have a history dating back many hundreds of years but in the minds of many, the town of Thirsk is synonymous with one name from the last century.

The James Herriot books were written by vet Alf Wight based on his experiences working in the district and catapulted both him and the town to fame.

The 1970s television series All Creatures Great and Small based on those books provided a window for the world into the charm of North Yorkshire.

That idyllic image may be somewhat different to 21st Century reality, but the town has the sense of community that Alf Wight managed to conjure up in those novels.

It is a small community, with around 8,000 residents including the town and surrounding villages, but what it lacks in numbers is overshadowed by the commitment of those who live there to their neighbours’ welfare.

Nowhere has escaped to impact of the pandemic, but in Thirsk a band of volunteers has helped to ensure those who needed help got the assistance to see them through.

That mirrors the dedication and kindness shown throughout North Yorkshire, but in Thirsk more than one in ten have received help from Community Works, the charity tasked with helping to safeguard residents through the lockdowns and restrictions of the last 17 months.

They are remarkable numbers for an organisation that relies on around 100 volunteers and reflect the spirit of the town.

It is a spirit which goes beyond ensuring the necessities are in place, with organisations like the Yarn Bombers providing both companionship for its members and knitted decorations for the town.

Anyone walking past the Ritz cinema could be forgiven for thinking they had been transported back to the Herriot era, but the building – with its historic charm – provides another focal point on Thirsk’s cultural trail, again relying on townspeople to look after their own needs.

Cllr Gareth Dadd, who is deputy leader of the county council as well as representing the area, said: “Those who live in Thirsk know what a wonderful community it is. For a small town, there is a remarkable amount happening and without the support of residents much of that would not be possible.

“North Yorkshire has been fortunate with the response from the community to the pandemic and none more so than in Thirsk.

“Community Works was launched only weeks before the pandemic, but it has performed an admirable job as the area’s community support organisation.

“That is down to the commitment of those involved and illustrates the strength of the bond which binds residents together.”