POLICE Sergeant Mark Botham and his wife Julie, who has been in charge of Skipton YMCA since its inception in 1995, have retired taking their skills into a new challenge.

They are leaving Skipton to set up home on Yorkshire's East Coast to run their own consultancy dealing with issues relating to health and safety.

Mr Botham, who has been chairman of North Yorkshire Police Federation since 2004, is also going to study a Masters Degree in Law.

He was at his last Police Federation conference in Bournemouth when members were stunned to be on receiving a political tongue-lashing from Home Secretary Teresa May who ordered the organisation to reform or face enforced change.

He said: "I don't think it was what she said, but how she said it. Her style of delivery was very vitriolic. Members are committed to reform but we don't need bullying into it."

During his police career, he has worked throughout North Yorkshire, arriving in Skipton as a sergeant in 1994 before joining the federation.

Mrs Botham recalls how when it was proposed to set up a YMCA in Skipton, there was widespread opposition.

People said it would not be suitable in a town which championed itself as the Gateway to the Dales and others said there were no homeless young people in Skipton.

Plans to set it up in Otley Street were scrapped and eventually a new building was constructed near Skipton bus station on land gifted by Craven District Council.

She said: "We were able to give the young people a safe and stable place to live and with people who cared. A lot of them have done fantastically well. It has been very satisfying work."