Bench pays tribute to volunteers

Darley and Menwith Parish Council unveiled a new bench as a thank you to those who supported the community during the Covid-19 crisis.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 8:43 am

The seat has been installed in Stocks Green, complete with a plaque which pays tribute to volunteers.

Sue Welch, chairman of the Parish Council, said: “When the first lockdown came, in March 2020, it became obvious that many of ‘the usual suspects’, who volunteer in the various village organisations, were actually classed as vulnerable as they were over the age of 65.

“Fortunately organisers from Christ Church and the Parish Council stepped forward and, working initially with Nidderdale Plus, the Darley Community Support group was formed.”

Over 80 villagers volunteered and delivered postcards to every household in Darley and Menwith Parish and in Thornthwaite and Padside, offering help.

“A large number of requests came in for help with shopping, newspaper collection, collection of prescriptions (with Nidderdale Plus help), dog walking and the occasional lawn mowing,” said Sue.

“A group of volunteers was also established to simply offer a chat on the telephone, to help with the feeling of isolation if villagers were shielding, and one lady collected donations of material and made and distributed over 200 masks.

“Dusty Miller Caterers offered to make meals at cost price, and some of the volunteers delivered over 1,000 meals each week during the lockdown period.”

The group operated from March 2020 to June 2021 and the organisers logged 500 shops, 140 dog-walks and delivered 1,000 meals.

“Although the support group has now stood down, it is ready to move into action if more lockdowns happen during this winter,” said Sue, who was for once unable to help because she fell into the vulnerable category.

“It must be pointed out that there were many other individuals in the village who also offered help to their more vulnerable neighbours and friends, without being part of the official group.

“These additional acts of kindness are unquantifiable but are still recognised as part of the volunteer activity that is recognised by the Thank You Bench.”

Sue said she hoped that these new volunteers would continue to be involved with village activities.

As Organiser of the Darley Heritage Group, she was also pleased that the council had installed the bench and plaque, which would serve as a reminder to future villagers of this Covid pandemic.

The organisers thanked Sue for her kind words and the Parish Council for the provision of the bench, and stressed that it had been a real community effort, with no-one to be singled out for special praise.

Sue added: “Everyone involved was proud to have been part of the initiative, and although they hoped they would not be needed, they would be ready to step forward and help the community of Darley again if necessary.”