November 26, 2023

Lights, wetlands, action!

Lights, wetlands, action! Aireborough and Skipton Craven Rotary connect with arts, nature and volunteer organisations    

Central to Rotary in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire are the relationships with local communities. To best serve our communities, Rotary clubs are looking to partnership working opportunities with other link-minded organisations. 

This month, we are looking at how Aireborough and Skipton Craven Rotary clubs are linking up with local groups to create cultural events, foster community connection and protect nature. 

Aireborough Rotary, Yeadon Town Hall and Rodley Nature Reserve: Fostering community cultural opportunities and protecting the environment 

For the past 140 years, Yeadon Town Hall in West Yorkshire has been serving the local community as a cinema, school rooms, a library, archive, a concert hall, a theatre amongst many other uses. These days, it’s a much-loved multi-arts venue and community centre. 

Aireborough Rotary Club has been working in partnership with Yeadon Town Hall (YTH) since 2018 when it rebranded as a Community Interest Company (CIC), a non-profit which operates as a business and serves a local community. For years, Aireborough Rotary has held events there, and YTH becoming a CIC made working in collaboration more attractive to both organisations.    

“Because we hold events there, we joined the Town Hall Users Committee which puts us in touch with other groups working in our community,” says Aireborough Rotary member, Robert Mirfield.  

When YTH approached Aireborough Rotary to help run a weekly tea club for senior citizens, it was an opportunity they didn’t want to miss. YTH provided a free venue and Aireborough Rotary members organised the weekly sessions and entertainment with local community groups such as Brassneck Theatre, Yeadon Charities and Yeadon Theatre Group. Though some of the organisations involved and the venue have shifted since the Tea Club began, the strong partnership between Rotary and YTH means that sessions still run week after week with nearly 50 senior citizens in regular attendance. YTH also provides Tea Club members with an annual Christmas lunch with entertainment.

The partnership means that YTH also helps Aireborough Rotary. YTH hosts Aireborough Rotary’s annual brass band concert, one of the major fundraising events for the club. The venue is provided free of charge, with trained YTH staff available to ensure full safety compliance. In return, Aireborough Rotary makes a donation from event profits. The two groups also work in collaboration on the annual Christmas Lights Switch On event and Christmas Fair which YTH organises and Rotary participates with an annual market stall and helps provide marshalls to assist with traffic and crowd control.

The two groups have also jointly arranged a beer festival fundraiser and YTH has also provided a free venue for Rotary members to prepare food for disadvantaged and needy children during school holidays under the Healthy Holidays scheme. When Aireborough Rotary found themselves without a meeting venue for an event, YTH provided them with a last-minute emergency meeting space. Frequent visitors of YTH events will also spot Rotary members providing volunteer front of house, box office or bar staff support or as regular attendees to YTH’s many events.

Three young friends and a mother completed the Easter Egg Hunt at Rodley Nature Reserve with a full box of tokens.
Photo credit for approved image: Aireborough Rotary Club

Aireborough Rotary has also worked closely with Rodley Nature Reserve, a local wetland and volunteer-led organisation. Two major annual Rotary family events feature at Rodley Nature Reserve, the Easter Egg Hunt and the autumnal Seed Trail when Rotary and reserve volunteers work together. The reserve benefits from more people discovering its attractions, joining activities and as customers at the centre and its café. 

Aireborough Rotary has a representative on the Rodley events committee and a creative volunteer on both the education team (receiving school visits) and the pond dipping team which educates young visitors. After serious flooding to the River Aire in 2015, Aireborough Rotary secured a Rotary District Grant to help Rodley Nature Reserve repair damage. The funds helped purchase fencing posts and plant a dead hedge–a traditional woodland management tool constructed from cut saplings, branches and foliage. 

For Aireborough, working with Yeadon Town Hall and Rodley Nature Reserve is mutually beneficial. “They gain income and customers from our events as well as our boots on the ground when they need help,” says Aireborough Rotary member, Robert Mirfield. 

These partnerships have introduced Aireborough Rotary members to wider community organisations and projects, and have raised the profile of the club in the community. Robert also highlights the additional benefits of working with these organisations as they align with Rotary causes, particularly around community development and protecting the environment. 

Skipton Craven and Skipton Step Into Action:  Helping each other to help others

In March 2022, the Rotary Club of Skipton Craven started working in partnership with Skipton Step Into Action (SSIA) to help each other with projects and fundraising that benefit the people of Skipton and nearby areas. 

“We were originally seeking Business Partnerships but we failed to attract any interest from any of the businesses in Skipton so, realising that the Rotary Club of Skipton Craven  and Skipton Step into Action has much in common through supporting the local community, we sought a partnership with them, with a view to us providing fundraising support for them, and SSIA providing volunteer support for our activities,” says David Squire, Public Image Lead for the Rotary Club of Skipton Craven and lead organiser for the Step Into Summer and Autumn Tea Parties.

Founded in 2020 as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Skipton Step Into Action mobilises and connects people within Skipton and the surrounding villages. They offer person-centred befriending services (such as doorstep chats, friendly phone calls, accompanying people to appointments, walk and talk meetups, and more), volunteer transportation and nature-based activities.  

This mutually-beneficial support system began through a neighbourly connection between a Rotary Assistant Governor, Brian Stott and one of the founders of SSIA. The neighbours realised the similarities in the organisations’ ethos and values and decided to work together under the motto “helping each other to help others.” The two organisations agreed to share ideas, volunteers, resources and fundraising activities, for the good of the people of Skipton and surrounding villages. 

The Step Into Spring gathering for senior citizens and vulnerable people in Skipton and Craven is one of several events put on by the Rotary Club of Skipton Craven and Skipton Step Into Action. Photo credit: Rotary Club of Skipton Craven 

Since the start of the partnership, the groups have jointly organised two successful Step into Summer and Autumn Tea Parties for the senior citizens and vulnerable people in Skipton and Craven. The Autumn event in September attracted more than 90 attendees and raised over £800 towards the purchase of a portable defibrillator for SSIA. In return, volunteers from SSIA are signed up to help Skipton Craven Rotary with their annual Santa Sleigh collection and are fielding a team to take part in the Santa Fun Run.

Skipton Craven members see the relationship as a positive and useful source for sharing resources and ideas. The relationship is still young, and the club sees potential for more involvement from Rotary members, family and friends with SSIA activities. 

For any Rotary clubs looking to partner with other organisations, David offers this advice: “Look at what you have in common in terms of support to the community and what are the mutual benefits to each organisation.”

You can learn more out more about Yeadon Town Hall, Rodley Nature Reserve, Skipton Step Into Action, and Skipton Craven and Aireborough Rotary clubs through the following links:

Rebecca A Mendoza is a freelance writer and member of York Rotary. You can learn more about her work at

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