THE Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust has recognised the work of organisations and individuals in its 20th anniversary year, Lesley Tate reports.

THE volunteers of Age UK North Craven, Clapham Community Shop, and community minded farmers are amongst those to be rewarded for their contribution to the dales by the Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT).

To mark this year's 20th anniversary, the trust has given out 20 awards to some of the groups, organisations and individuals whose work helps to sustain and celebrate the Yorkshire Dales.

A judging panel made up of trustees, employees and ambassadors of the trust, as well as editor of the Dalesman, Adrian Braddy, considered nominations in five different categories, including rural enterprise and employment, access and understanding, and a YDMT champions award, for individuals.

And, with many excellent nominations to choose from in each category, the judging panel was spoilt for choice, but after much deliberation those exceptional people and groups who go ‘above and beyond’ for the Yorkshire Dales were selected.

David Sharrod, the trust's chief executive, said: “Over the last 20 years, YDMT has helped others to achieve a fantastic amount in this special corner of the world. What better way to celebrate our 20th anniversary than by recognising this excellent work and supporting more beneficial projects in the future."

An awards ceremony was held at Bolton Abbey, when each of the winners received a personalised glass trophy, appropriately made by the Stonegate Glass Studio in Ingleton, and a slice of £91,000 to help them continue their work in supporting the dales in Yorkshire and its surroundings.

Silver award winner in the sustainable communities section, recognising innovation, dedication and community spirit, was the volunteer team of Age UK North Craven, which received £6,000 to help it continue its work.

The trust said the 180 volunteers were dedicated to helping older people live independent and dignified lives in dales communities. Supported by a core of administration and training staff, they provided vital lifelines to older people, including transport to shops and health appointments and carried out social visits.

Sue Bradley, chief officer of Age UK North Craven, said they were thrilled the volunteer team had been recognised by the trust. "The volunteer team consists of 180 individuals dedicated to helping older people to live an independent and dignified life in the communities of North Craven. They give time, energy and thoughtfulness to ensure older people stay connected to the communities in which they live," she said. "They take on a range of roles; drivers, befrienders, village social club leaders, serving or sorting in our shop in Settle, all with a friendly face to provide vital lifelines to older people, such as minibus transport to local shops, a lift to an urgent health appointment, food and fun in the company of friends and family to make a lonely week bearable, or a home visit to give a sense of value. Our volunteers provide their time without stint, ensuring their communities are sustainable and enjoyable places for everyone."

In the same category, Cruse Bereavement Care, which supports people in both Craven and in Bradford, received a bronze award and £5,000 in cash. The charity recruits and trains volunteers to go out and offer support to bereaved adults, young people and children, receiving around 350 referrals every year. It is run by three part time staff and 50 volunteers, who provide free and confidential support, both face to face, and on the telephone. They also give talks to raise awareness of what they do. The money will be used to carry out more volunteer training.

Also in the community category, Craven Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum was highly commended and received a cash prize of £4,000. The forum, which is open to anyone who lives or works in Craven, aims to raise the profile of mental health and wellbeing. It provides a link between those who commission mental health services, such as the NHS, and the general public. It currently is unfunded, and relies on the support of North Yorkshire County Council, limiting the services it can provide. The money it received from the trust may used for a phone line, web development and focus groups.

In the rural enterprise and employment section, celebrating rural enterprise, Clapham Community Shop was given a gold award, and £8,000 in cash.

The community got together and reopened the former village shop in 2015 with a voluntary management committee and with the support of 180 shareholders. The shop now employs four paid members of staff and is run with the help of more than 30 volunteers, ranging in age from 16 to 64 years old, all carrying out a variety of rolls, and picking up new skills in the process. The shop prides itself on being well stocked with a variety of local produce, helping residents to do their weekly shop, if they are not able to travel.

In the access and understanding section, recognising those who promote opportunities for a wider understanding of the dales, Keasden Head Farm, run by Sheila Mason, won a bronze award and £5,000 in cash.

The judges found Sheila to be a dedicated and passionate farmer who has helped a wide range of people to learn about farming in the dales.

Her farm offers classroom facilities

with disabled access and a chance for

groups to enjoy hands-on conservation. She has also hosted activities for many of

the projects run by the trust, and is involved with the young farmers organisation. An adaptable and positive woman, she has been instrumental in the trust's Farmers in Education project, acting as a case

study and sharing experiences with other farmers and school teachers to encourage more

curriculum-linked education on farms in the area.

In the YDMT champions award, for those who go above and beyond the call of duty, Rachel and Mike Benson, of Broadrake Farm, Whernside; and Tom Lord, of Lower Winskill, were winners.

Rachel and Mike Benson have converted an old agricultural building into

a bunk barn, with underfloor heating

powered by a wood pellet biomass boiler. They run various traditional craft and

heritage skills sessions, including

blacksmithing, scything, willow weaving

and painting, and they have also planted

two native broad leaf woodland areas,

a hay meadow and are cultivating an upland wildflower meadow. They have also installed a wildlife pond to increase biodiversity, and host

educational activities for a range of groups, sharing their knowledge and expertise. They recently welcomed a party of refugees and asylum seekers, and have hosted many school trips.

For more than 20 years Tom has managed

much of his land at Lower Winskill in

traditional ways to support an

abundance of flora and fauna. An early 'high nature value farmer', he has surfaced some of his paths to make them wheelchair accessible, and has refurbished some of his farm buildings into indoor teaching facilities for use by school, college and adult groups. He provides free teacher information

packs, farm fact leaflets and educational resources, and leads guided walks around his

farm, interpreting and explaining the history of the farm and its buildings, walls and field

patterns, upland farming traditions, the limestone landscape and glacial features, as well

as the scientific research he’s been involved in.

For a complete list of all winners, and to find out more about the YDMT, visit the website: