Inspired by concerns about the environment, I am one of a small group registered with earthday.org. This year we invited like-minded local and regional groups to showcase their work on World Earth Day 2023, which falls on Saturday 22 April. The response has been fantastic. So, on Saturday, from 10am to 1pm, Thirsk town hall will be taken over by a great range of groups active in conserving and enhancing our environment.
A particular highlight at noon, the winners of an art competition will be announced. With over 70 entries from youngsters, the judges face a big challenge in awarding the cash prizes generously donated by Zillah Bell Gallery. Having that number of entries is a real tribute to teachers who have encouraged their pupils and testimony to the interest young people have in the environment.
Amazing, dedicated organisations
Major national and regional charities and trusts are taking part. The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE NEY), Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, Woodlands Trust, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds will be showing how they are protecting rural life, working to keep our rivers clean, conserving vital woodlands, saving wildlife habitats, and creating a world where birdlife can thrive.
The scope of these charities is impressive. For example, Woodland Trust is the country’s largest woodland conservation charity with over 500,000 members and supporters and more than 1,000 sites. Its work includes restoring ancient woodland for the benefit of wildlife and people. The Trust seeks to rekindle people’s love for woods and trees and show the benefits trees bring to our lives and communities.
Active across Yorkshire, the CPRE NEY are delighted to join with partner organisations in celebrating World Earth Day. Jan Arger, chair of the North Yorkshire branch, says:
“There are so many pressures on our fragile ecosystem without the challenge of climate change. It is down to everyone to protect our world for future generations. This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our glorious countryside with like-minded partner organisations and get to discover some very local initiatives.”
Challenging outdated preconceptions and stereotypes, the mighty Women’s Institute (WI) will be there showing how it has been campaigning on environmental issues for over a century. WI member Lyndsey Gee explains:
“North Yorkshire East Federation of WIs is delighted to be taking part in this event, to help showcase the great range of environmental activities being carried out in our area. We expect the day to be both inspiring and enjoyable. The WI have been involved for a century in working for our countryside, and against environmental degradation and climate change – including End Plastic Soup, SOS for Honeybees, and Great Big Green Weeks among current campaigns; and with a national resolution being voted on by members next month calling for clean rivers for people and wildlife. The World Earth Day can only help this along.”
Being involved in organising the event has made me aware just how much our quality of life is enhanced by local volunteers. People like the Hambleton Strollers with their weekly guided health walks or the Thirsk Wombles who collected 28 bags of litter in Thirsk last weekend alone.
It’s been really inspirational to discover the work of people like Rose Dawson who, with her family, set up and runs an Owl Rescue Charity. At one time they were sharing their home with over 50 owls, with funds for vets fees and upkeep raised by Rose selling her wonderful preserves.
Thirsk Community Library might be the longest standing example of ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’. It will be with us promoting not only books but its amazing range of services and running craft sessions.
Highly skilled volunteers from The Thirsk Repair Cafe have joined forces with EARTHDAY.ORG. By fixing all sorts of household goods and sharpening tools, for free or donations, the Repair Cafe helps people avoid unnecessary waste and save money. It is a real privilege to have their April session working alongside us in the town hall annex throughout the morning.
Environmental responsibility and sound economy
Corinne Williams of the Northallerton, Thirsk and District Beekeeping Association has been a beekeeper since 2015 and recently set up a small but expanding bee project. The North Yorkshire Contented Bee Project aims to educate people (especially farmers) about bees and other pollinators, their habitats, and importance to the environment and UK economy.
She says, “Local bee colonies provide FREE pollination services to farmers and in 2021 bees and other pollinators contributed the equivalent of more than £500mn a year to UK agriculture and food production, by improving crop quality and quantity, and are vital to our wider, natural ecosystems. I’m delighted to have this fantastic opportunity to show people how important bees are to life on earth”.
Corinne’s delicious honey will be available to sample and buy.
The renowned family Deer Shed Festival shows how ‘getting the little things right’ and focusing on quality has built a festival that helps boost the rural economy.
Local country markets are part of a network of 200 across England and Wales selling homemade goods, garden-grown produce and handmade crafts. On Saturday, representatives will have plants for sale. These markets are all about sustainability, self-sufficiency, and co-operation, with all the producers members of a Co-operative Social Enterprise. Their regular markets with a fantastic range of products can be found here.
The bigger, better-known Co-ops familiar in High Streets and villages will also be with us showing how co-operatives are combating climate change.
Local to global
We haven’t overlooked the international dimension of the link between what we buy and climate change. Representatives of the Fairtrade movement are taking the opportunity to spread the word that Fairtrade is good for the environment for several reasons. If Fairtrade producers use chemicals, they only use those certified in the EU. Fairtrade helps farmers to farm in a sustainable way, for example by conserving water and growing crops that can be grown under trees. The Fairtrade premium is used to train local farmers and their families in the most environmentally way of farming appropriate to where they live and work.
Thirsk Friends of the Earth will take up the climate change theme in a special presentation.
More than the sum of its parts
Everyone involved in the event, from large established organisations to the very local, is so enthusiastic about the opportunity to promote their work. The combination of exhibitions, presentations, arts and crafts for youngsters, guided birdwatching walks (at 10.30am and noon), quizzes will make it a vibrant event with lots to interest visitors.
We have been able to make the event free, thanks to Thirsk & Malton Labour Party letting us have the use of the town hall at no cost.
We haven’t had the resources to contact everyone involved in environmental action. Any omissions are entirely unintentional. If any readers would have liked to be included – please call in and make the connections.
It has been such a privilege to get to know so many wonderful people and learn about what they do for our world. Thanks are due to them, for coming to Thirsk on Saturday, for all that they do, day in and day out, for the benefit of our World. Do come along and meet them.