Two years ago the founders of Skipton Community Orchestra had a dream of bringing music to the masses – but they never expected it would become such a success.

What started over a cup of tea and a chat has now grown into a fully-fledged orchestra with 30 members, which performs hugely popular and entertaining free concerts in the town.

Two mums, Anita Birch and Catherine Davidson, started the whole thing off and have taken it from strength to strength.

Anita said: “We were just chatting at the children’s centre – Catherine played the flute and I played the violin. We said it would be nice if there was somewhere we could play – there’s Settle Orchestra and places like that but you have to be of a certain standard.

“We thought it would be nice if we could just get together with some friends and play some tunes. Quite a few people expressed an interest.

“Ten people came to the first get-together and everybody said ‘let’s do it again’.”

The orchestra was then lucky enough to find a professional musician who volunteered to conduct and direct it – Tricia Rees-Jones, who is head of junior school music at Giggleswick School and plays viola with Settle Orchestra.

Last Christmas the group played its first concert, at Christ Church School, and in the summer they played at the Holy Trinity Church Fete.

They have had grants from Skipton Rotary Club, Skipton Town Council and The Craven Trust, which has helped buy music and equipment, and the orchestra has just been awarded £500 from Skipton Building Society’s Grassroots Giving fund.

Catherine said: “We’re planning to use this £500 to buy some second-hand musical instruments so that people – children and grown-ups – can have a go at playing them after concerts. Hopefully it’ll inspire them to take up an instrument or go back to learning an instrument – it’s never too late. Music is good for your soul; when you’re breathing and playing it just lifts your spirits.”

They also hope to inspire a new generation of children to take up music – not easy to do when there are so many other distractions in the digital age.

“You are your children’s main inspiration in life – it’s good for them to see their parents doing something musical,” said Catherine.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of music it is, it brings everybody together and just makes people happy. It’s beneficial for your health and wellbeing. It brings together different sections of society, it’s uplifting and it’s good for the community.”

The orchestra welcomes musicians of any standard and has a range of abilities, from top-class players to those who are a bit rusty, to beginners.

“Everybody’s got so many commitments, it’s nice to be able to just pick up your instrument and play a piece and not have to practice for hours and hours,” said Catherine. “There are lots of orchestras that are really serious – we wanted to get away from that and just do it for fun.”

Anita said: “I’ve been very surprised at how successful it’s been. I never thought it would take off to such an extent. We’re delighted it’s so popular.”

Tricia Rees-Jones said: "I just loved the idea of it - of people having the willingness to dig an instrument out of the back of a cupboard where it's been languishing and pick it up and have a go. I'm a great believer in the fact that music has got to be fun. This group is just doing it purely for the enjoyment of it and that's a fantastic thing."

Orchestra rehearsals take place every second and last Tuesday of the month from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the Holy Trinity Church Vestry Rooms in Skipton. There’s a charge of £3 per rehearsal and you can ‘pay as you play’.

The Skipton Community Orchestra Christmas Concert takes place on Friday November 29 at Christ Church School, Skipton, at 7pm – entry is free.