The Connecting Ripon column with Karen Weaver: A community project saving our heritage

For our autumn meeting we enjoyed our first visit to Network member Lister House. We received a warm welcome and were impressed with the facilities and friendly team during a short tour of the building.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 12:53 pm
The Source of the River Skell at Dallowgill Moor.

It is always inspiring to hear about successful partnerships and new opportunities to celebrate and grow volunteering in and around our city.

The positive message at the meeting was that more organisations are looking to collaborate and make more connections in the community with new opportunities in 2020.

One such opportunity for the Ripon community is The Skell Valley Project which we heard about from Jack Palmer, the project Community Participation Officer. This is a National Lottery funded partnership which aims to slow the flow of water along the River Skell and improve opportunities for people to explore and enjoy the natural and cultural heritage of the Skell Valley. It focuses around the River Skell which runs 12 miles from Dallowgill Moor, through locations like Grantley Hall, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal and Hell Wath into Ripon.

The National Trust and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) began the partnership to achieve this and were given a grant by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2018 to develop plans with the people of the Skell Valley ahead of a second £1.4m bid in June 2020 towards the proposed £2.4m project.

From farmers and landowners to local schools and charities, partnership has been the driving force behind this project as ideas are developed together with local people and groups.

The project has engaged hundreds of people at events like Nidderdale Show, St Wilfrid’s Parade, Park Run at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal and hosted a series of ‘Community Conversation’ drop-ins at Ripon Community House.

Groups all over Ripon (too many to mention in this article!) have given their support and the members of our Connecting Ripon Network have been key to reaching out to the local community.

To give just a few examples, members of Ripon Walled Garden have carried out water quality testing, Ripon Library has hosted public drop-ins and at HARCVS we are helping to develop a project looking at improving the volunteering experience in Ripon and discovering ways to grow the number of people giving time.

Should funding be secured next year, the project will provide opportunities for people to volunteer in conservation work and ‘citizen science’. It would also support the activities of local groups like the Friends of Hell Wath, Jennyruth Workshops and Plastic Free Ripon in engaging people with looking after our local area.

There is now a Facebook ‘Skell Valley Project Community Group’ you can join to keep up to date with news, and if you have any questions about the project or want to get involved Jack would love to hear from you by email [email protected]

There are lots of other opportunities to volunteer in our Ripon community as our local charity members are always in need of extra pairs of hands to help with a wide variety of interesting projects, both indoors and outdoors.

If you want to make more of these dark winter days, try something new and meet new people, take a look at our local HARCVS Volunteering Directory at and be inspired!