Celebrations have been held in Arkengarthdale to mark the completion of its new community space.
Primrose and Betsy Birks, aged six and three, untied the ribbon to officially declare the Hub open, with more than 100 people attending a tea party where they could inspect the facilities and to find out about the activities that will be hosted at the venue.
Located in St Mary’s Church, volunteers behind the facility say Arkengarthdale Hub is a major boost to the community and will have a positive impact for residents and visitors alike, providing an inclusive space that will bring people together.
After enjoying strawberry teas, guests were invited to browse displays featuring the groups that will be using the venue, from yoga, zumba, wreath making, coffee mornings, quizzes and guest speakers to flora and fauna.
During the afternoon, an interactive photograph trail for children took them on a journey of the church yard where they had to find pits with rubber stamps and take an impression to prove they had been there.
For the older visitors, there was a history trail to discover five key points of interest about the church which was consecrated in 1820.
In addition, the recently formed Arkengarthdale Horticultural Society, whose members are volunteering with the upkeep of the church grounds, presented their vegetable plot and the Hub’s Food Swap & Share.
The initiative means provisions such as home-grown vegetables, jams and chutneys can be donated and swapped.
Ian Bethune, volunteer at Arkengarthdale Hub, said: “We have been overwhelmed with the number of people who attended our open event, and our thanks go to everyone who visited from near and far.
“The event was a fitting tribute to all the hard work that has been done to create this wonderful community space and it is clear by the fabulous turnout that the Hub is set to hold a special place in the hearts of many people as somewhere they can congregate and enjoy different activities.
“The afternoon could not have been better and it was made possible by an incredible team of volunteers who have stepped forward to offer their help and support.
“We are privileged to have such a wonderful community spirit in Arkengarthdale and the Hub will ensure this legacy continues and we hope it will become an important landmark in the Dale’s future.
Tony Oldershaw, who project managed the alterations and extension to create the Hub at St Mary’s Church, said: “The completion of the community facility at St Mary’s is the culmination of fifteen years of work in re-roofing the church, restoring the windows and ceiling and finally providing the Arkengarthdale Community with the space and associated amenities they can call their own – The Arkengarthdale Hub.
“St Mary’s has for 200 years been at the centre of the community which has always actively supported the church. However, following the closure of the Methodist Chapel, and more recently the School in 2019, the community has been without anywhere to meet collectively.
“The church wanted to help and was very happy to initiate the finding of the external funding and to manage the creation of the internal space and the building of the new facilities, which include a flexible open space, kitchen and servery, mobility ramp, table and chairs, as well as a small extension housing an accessible toilet and a storage area.
“Everyone is delighted with the design and quality of the workmanship.
“The use of the facilities by the community will now be passed to a semi-independent group that will develop their use to suit the needs of everyone in the Dale.
“It is gratifying that there are plans for several exciting activities and the members of the church are more than happy to have the use of the building increased to the benefit of everyone.”
The community has thanked Mike Overton of Overton Architects (Ilkley) and Contractors Roebuck and Holmes (Huddersfield) and the many organisations and individuals who awarded grants or gave donations including: Richmondshire District Council/North Yorkshire Council (Community Investment Fund), The Parochial Church Council of the Parish of Swaledale with Arkengarthdale, Yorkshire Dales National Park Sustainable Development Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, National Churches Trust, The Duke of Norfolk, Benefact Trust, The Congregation of St Mary’s Church, Hudson House Community Company, Reeth and The Church of England Diocese of Leeds.
To find out about the events and activities taking place at Arkengarthdale Hub please follow the Hub’s Facebook page.
Further information about booking the Hub is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org