Rishi Sunak backs Dales village hub’s revival

Rishi Sunak talks to Low Row villagers about the institute refurbishment.

Rishi Sunak visited Low Row in Swaledale to see progress on the refurbishment of the community’s village hub.

Work is underway on the first major improvements to the Low Row and Feetham Literary Institute’s in its 114-year history.

Phase 1 of the work – a new roof, windows, doors and LED lighting – has been completed. Fundraising is underway for Phase 2 – new heating system, insulation and redecorating) – which is expected to cost around £50,000.

During his visit, Mr Sunak spoke to many of the groups who currently use the building – including the Two Dales Community First Responders and the Melbecks Civil Emergency Plan Group – and heard about the role it now plays in making upper Swaledale more resilient in the face of extreme weather.

The area was badly hit by the floods of July 2019 and Storm Arwen which left a large part of the dale without power and water for five days in 2021.

Mr Sunak has supported the Institute’s application to the Northern Powergrid Foundation for a £20,000 grant.

He said: “The Institute plays a vital role in the life of the upper dale and I applaud the work of the trustees and their supporters in updating this historic building so that it can be so much more than just a village hall. It is a superb community effort.”

Richard Lewis, institute trustee and fundraiser, said the villagers appreciated Mr Sunak’s interest and support for the refurbishment project.

He added: “It was great that Mr Sunak came to our Dales village to see what we are doing to keep the institute as the focus of so many community initiatives and projects in Low Row and upper Swaledale.”