Saved from closure: Thousands of toys collected over 27 years have found a new home in Knaresborough

The Mayor of Knaresborough Coun, David Goode with Pam Godsell (Knaresborough Lions), Simon Knowles (fund raiser for The Old School). Angela Longden (Chair of Harrogate and Knaresborough Toy Library). Julie Smith (Fodder), Trevor Hayes (hall manager elect) and Sue Thom with her son Elliott (2) Picture: Adrian Murray. (1711211AM1).
The Mayor of Knaresborough Coun, David Goode with Pam Godsell (Knaresborough Lions), Simon Knowles (fund raiser for The Old School). Angela Longden (Chair of Harrogate and Knaresborough Toy Library). Julie Smith (Fodder), Trevor Hayes (hall manager elect) and Sue Thom with her son Elliott (2) Picture: Adrian Murray. (1711211AM1).

Thousands of toys collected over 27 years have found a new home, thanks to the generosity of the Knaresborough community.

Volunteers at the Harrogate and Knaresborough Toy Library had a race against time to save their cherished facility from closure after North Yorkshire County Council revealed plans to demolish their current premises on Ainsty Road in Harrogate.

An overwhelming wave of support from Knaresborough residents, community groups and businesses means the toys will be relocating from Harrogate to Knaresborough and moving in to The Old School.

The toy library has been firmly at the heart of the community for almost three decades - providing an important meeting point for new parents, tackling isolation, and supporting families on lower incomes in accessing thousands of educational toys and resources.

Knaresborough Town Council has awarded the toy library with a £1,040 grant in recognition of its tremendous value to the community, which will fund storage for a whole year, and Taylors of Harrogate has awarded a £1,000 grant to fund new toys.

The Chair of the Harrogate and Knaresborough Toy Library, Angela Longden, has thanked Knaresborough and the wider district for their great support, and also praised the Knaresborough Lions and Fodder for their continued backing.

Angela said: “We have had a real warm welcome in Knaresborough, there is a real sense of community. It will be a great resource for Knaresborough for all the families, but it will still be in good reach of Harrogate as well.

“The council wants our current premises boarded up by Christmas, so we’re grateful to everyone who has helped us to find somewhere.

“When we found out that we have to move, we thought that we might not be able to continue. It was a really sad thought because we have been going for so long.

“It really was a shock. But what’s been amazing is the community in Knaresborough, everyone’s really stepped up to give us ideas of who we could get in touch with and who can help us.

“The Old School has been great, they are really keen to have us there because I think we fit in with their ethos as a community facility. We are established, not for profit, and there for the community.

“We now have all these toys to get from A to B, so if anyone can help us that would be amazing.”

Angela first came across the Harrogate and Knaresborough Toy Library six years ago when she took her little girl along for a visit. She immediately fell in love with the place and has been passionate about supporting it ever since.

She said: “The toy library brings together anybody that is experiencing isolation, whether that’s new parents, grandparents or carers. It’s a place where new parents can feel comfortable to come along and meet others for a chat.”

The Mayor of Knaresborough, Coun David Goode, who has been a big supporter of the toy library, said: “What resonates with me is the focus on disadvantaged families, that it gives access to such a wide range of toys.

“We would be very sad if we lost this as a service to the community. The opportunity for them to relocate to Knaresborough is welcome.”

The Harrogate and Knaresborough Toy Library continues to go from strength to strength thanks to the extraordinary dedication of all its volunteers, and has been shortlisted for a Mumbler award for the best children’s activity in the area category. The winner will announced at the awards ceremony on Friday. The library has also been accepted on to the Co-Op community fund.