Cowling Primary School pupils are busy preparing for their festive fair, where Christmas bargains and treats will be on sale. The event takes place next Thursday, December 11, when visitors will be able to browse the stalls selling delicious cakes, toys, books and gifts and try their luck in the games room. And a new attraction this year is the intriguingly named Human Fruit Machine. All proceeds will help support the enrichment of the curriculum for all Cowling pupils. The fair opens from 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

The National Trust will stage a Christmas concert in the awe-inspiring setting of Malham Cove on Saturday. Skipton Brass Band will play some seasonal favourites from 2.30pm to 4pm while listeners enjoy mulled wine and mince pies. Entry is free but there are charges for refreshments.

It is interesting to see how times change. 1964 might only have been 50 years ago, but attitudes to employment were vastly different. A Skipton factory, based at Alexandra Mills in Keighley Road, was advertising for ‘young women’ to fill a few vacancies. Incentives included a good canteen, generous sick benefits and a profit sharing scheme. The former Johnson and Johnson factory, in Gargrave, was advertising for women workers, between 15 and 40 years old, and men up to 45 years old. Meanwhile, at Owd Bill Motors, Broughton Road, Skipton, the call was out for a boy, due to leave school at Christmas, to join the parts and accessories department. The boy needed to be good at figures, be tidy and have a good school report.

Skipton Community Orchestra needs an enthusiastic piano or keyboard player to join its merry band. The orchestra is a community project, which aims to inspire, encourage and enable people of all abilities to achieve through the power of music. Musicians don’t have to be professional-standard, just enthusiastic and willing to have a go. Catherine Davison, one of the orchestra organisers, says: “There are no auditions - just turn up and play. If anyone would like to have a go, just come along to one of our rehearsals. We are a friendly bunch who play for the fun of it.” And the orchestra will perform a Christmas concert at Christ Church C of E School in Skipton, tomorrow at 7pm, with coffee, cake and a raffle. The musicians rehearse at the Holy Trinity Vestry Rooms at the top of Skipton High Street, on the second and last Tuesday of every month from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. For more information about the orchestra, go or email or phone 07905 457626.

Santa will be going underground in the run-up to Christmas. But, don’t despair, he will be welcoming visitors in his grotto at Clapham’s Ingleborough Cave. He will be in situ this weekend, next weekend and the following weekend, with the grotto open from 11am to 4pm.The cost is £7 for children (including present) and £5 for adults. Limited transport will be provided (weather permitting) from the Lakeside at the start of the Nature Trail and from the cave. For more information, ring 015242 51242 or visit The Canal and River Trust has launched a search for a new, visionary leader to play a vital role in shaping the future policy for local canals.The voluntary post holder will chair the trust’s North West partnership board, providing strategic direction for the future care of the Leeds & Liverpool and Lancaster Canals. The bi-centennial celebrations for the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in 2016 and the new Super Slow Way arts project are just two of the exciting projects coming up on the North West waterway. Chantelle Seaborn, North West waterway manager with the Canal & River Trust, explained: “We are very keen to find someone used to working at a senior level who is passionate about protecting and promoting our wonderful waterways.” If you are interested, you will have to be quick as applications close tomorrow. For more information, visit

Several employees of Barnoldswick bed company Silentnight Ltd, together with their boss, Tom Clarke, jetted off to Bermuda 50 years ago on a specially charted Boeing 707. The trip included the 35 winners of a Wake up in Bermuda competition, launched by the company earlier in the year to promote its new Bermuda bed. And along with Mr Clarke, his wife, Joan, and their eldest son, were workers from every department of the factory. The cost of all 137 on the trip, including flights and stay at the exclusive Elbow Beach Surf Club, would have been £500 a head, but it was met by the company. Mr Clarke himself, who established the company in a backyard in Skipton after the war using the £160 gratuity for his Royal Navy service, was insured for £1 million, in case he didn’t return from the trip himself. While in Bermuda, Mr Clarke met the governor of Bermuda, Lord Martonmere (formerly Sir Roland Robinson, MP for Blackpool).

The Settle-Carlisle Railway is on track to celebrate the advent of Christmas on a high note. It will run one of its popular Music & Ale trains next Saturday, December 13, with real ales, carols and mince pies adding festive cheer to a dark, winter’s night. It will depart from Skipton Station and will return at 9.38pm having travelled as far as Ribblehead. Josephine Shoosmith, of the Settle-Carlisle Railway Development Company, says: “The summer season of Music and Ale trains is always really popular. We had so many requests for a Christmas version that we just couldn’t refuse. The atmosphere of these events is always friendly and fun – and for this one we will add some real Christmas cheer.” Advance ticket holders will be treated to mince pies and port and the real ale bar will serve a selection of locally brewed beers which will include some special seasonal brews. Warming mulled wine will also be on tap. And everyone on board will be encouraged to join in the carol singing – and there’s even a rumour that Father Christmas will be pulling pints behind the bar. Any funds raised will be invested in projects to improve the Settle-Carlisle Railway. For more information and tickets, visit

Recent research has shown that only four per cent of parents read a bedtime story to their children every night. And hoping to reverse that trend is Settle Stories, which runs the largest storytelling festival in the north of England. Founder Sita Brand says: “Reading to children gives them a head start in life. It helps develop listening abilities, vocabulary, creativity and oral communication amongst many other critical skills.” Now, it is offering ten families the chance to take part in an online Bedtime Tales event next Sunday, December 14, from 6pm. “It will inspire children into a world of faraway lands, other cultures and magic” said Sita. To book a free place, visit Meanwhile the group is planning to conduct further research to identify what is needed in the community to bring back the magic of bedtime stories.