Dear Reader: Why you should support local charities first

The gorgeous North Yorkshire village of Burnsall.
The gorgeous North Yorkshire village of Burnsall.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Forget about the slogan “support your local shop” - how about “support your local charity”?

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

It’s come to my attention; that’s code for I bumped into someone, that in the current era of austerity and Brexit the underdogs of the voluntary sector are feeling the squeeze even more than the household names.

Not only do small local charities have more demand on their services as the state retreats one step at a time from its social responsibilities but they find themselves in a battle with bigger competitors.

The shock is that this situation applies to the Harrogate district as much as anywhere else.

In this scramble for cash, local volunteers find themselves doubly disadvantaged.

At the very time they are fighting hard to raise their profiles, national charities are stepping up their own campaigns.

The problem is locals simply don’t have the budgets or paid staff of the nationals.

Now, this isn’t an argument for not supporting the big charities.

But it seems logical to assume that local charity groups by definition will spend more of their time and more of their money on helping local people.

It’s not an easy choice to make but, for those of us wondering where to donate some of our pennies and pounds, “support your local charity” may not be such a daft slogan.

Saturday afternoon at the bank holiday weekend found me standing in the middle of an episode of Midsomer Murders.

For that’s what my visit to Burnsall near Bolton Abbey was like – despite the Yorkshire accents and the lack of a murder.

This lovely village by the banks of the River Wharfe surrounded by a spectacular circle of towering fells was awash ion in bunting and canvas tents and mini marquees.

There was egg throwing, vintage cars, a Punch and Judy show, a tombola, coconut shies, a giant inflatable slide and an appearance by the Skipton Brass Band.

Located on a small field in the shadow of the village’s ancient bridge not far from the Red Lion pub, the place was absolutely packed for Burnsall Feast Sports.

The centre-piece of the day, the Classic Fell Race, was only a mile and a half long but what a mile and a half - straight up then straight down.

The competitors from Bingley, Skipton, Pudsey, Ilkley, Horsforth and Harrogate looked normal enough in their club colours and running shorts.

But they all had a steely look in their eyes typical of a fell runner, as flinty as the rocks and scree they hurtled down at speeds that looked reckless, to say the least.

The fab Riverside café was doing a roaring trade as more and more people poured into this Yorkshire gem of a village.

I don’t suppose half as many people would have turned up for any of the events in isolation.

Put them altogether, however, and it’s sheer bank holiday goldThe secret of good event management, I guess.

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