Why one of North Yorkshire's loveliest villages needs its Friends
It may be one of North Yorkshire's loveliest places to live - and a highly popular tourist attraction - but it seems even Ripley isn't 100 per cent perfect.
Despite boasting a 15th century castle, a beautiful church, lovely pub, shops and a cycle path leading all the way back to Harrogate, there are issues which require to be addressed.
Which is where the Friends of Ripley and their fluorescent yellow jackets come in.
Since the group was formed last May, it’s gone from strength to strength with a whole host of successful activities and fundraising events carried out by these busy bees
Its new mission is to get this picture postcard village ready for its role in this year’s biggest sporting event in the area - the Tour de Yorkshire cycling race.
Chairman of the group, Maureen Mitchell, said: “Ripley is a beautiful French-designed village, the only one in England, and we want to preserve its beauty.
“We’ve been very busy since we met up the Friends but the sense of community spirit which has built up since the start of the village group has been reward in itself.”
Aged between early 30s to late 70s, all of ‘the Friends’ live in Ripley itself. The inspiration for their formation came from a host of minor issues in the village identified by residents themselves.
Maureen said: “For a few months during the village’s parish meetings people were voicing concern that the village was beginning to look a little careworn and we needed to do something about it.
“We leafletted the whole village to attend a meeting to see what the feeling would be. Almost all of the village turned out and we decided to formed the group.”
The Friends’ numerous achievements so far include reinstating the window boxes on Main Street, planting seasonal flowers, grass cutting, helping the Boar Fountain to shine again and litter picking once a week.
The chairman said the group was grateful to Sir Thomas Ingilby, owner of Ripley Castle, who had been very supportive from the very start.
One of the hottest issues is parking despite the fact the estate kindly provides one for free.
Maureen said: “There is a large, recently tarmacked, free car park at the end of the village, we just need to get people to park in it.
“People park everywhere and this has resulted in the green areas on Main Street being badly eroded.”
As well as social evenings and fundraising events, the Friends also finances their activities via a new, striking-looking donations box situated in the free car park.
Looking ahead, the group’s main aims are to place posts around green areas to prevent cars damaging the grass before repairing the grass itself.
The Friends also have plans to erect flag poles on the buildings, along with bunting, in preparation for the Tour de Yorkshire coming through the village at the end of April.