Free rehabilitation offered to chronic pain sufferers in Harrogate

A gym in Harrogate has offered a free programme to help people suffering from chronic pain.

The six-month programme is based at the Nuffield Health gym in Hornbeam Park.

The programme is funded by the Nuffield charity and is worth roughly £1000 for each participant. It was designed by GPs, physiotherapists, and emotional wellbeing clinicians across the UK.

The course is run three times per year and can accommodate up to 60 participants at each start.

It is open to anyone who has suffered from pain and stiffness around a joint, lower back and neck pain, arthritis, gout and other conditions for more than six months. Participants can be referred to the programme by their GPs or can complete an online self-referral form.

Rehabilitation specialist at Nuffield Harrogate Melanie Hook said:

“At the charity we recognise there’s a need to support people living with chronic joint pain, affecting more than 8.75 million people in the UK and has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The programme aims to empower and enable individuals with chronic joint pain to self-manage their condition and pain symptoms.”

For the first twelve weeks participants are expected to meet twice a week for a group workshop and an exercise session guided by joint pain experts.

Some of the exercises covered include joint strength training, flexibility training, yoga, and swimming. Full gym access is also provided for the entirety of the programme.

After this participants are moved to the next unsupervised phase where they can apply what they learnt in weeks 1-12 individually at the gym.

Those who have completed the programme have reported significant improvements to their pain levels and overall quality of life.

One participant said:

“I feel I have benefited enormously. I feel much stronger. I’m walking better. And my pain has reduced to the extent that I don’t need to take pain relief as much.”

Ms Hook added:

“Our program has been a huge success and since our start, we have had hundreds of participants go through the programme.

“Some stay on at the gym and others have gone away and kept up with their activity in other areas of their lives.”

To find out more click here.

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Harrogate boy cuts off hair to fundraise for children’s mental health service

A local boy has cut his hair as part of a fundraiser for a mental health charity.

9-year-old Felix cut off his long hair earlier this week to help raise money for Mind in Harrogate District.

The fundraiser was set up by his family in May and aims to raise enough for a new mental health service for local children.

It aims to raise £10,000 and was launched in memory of Felix’s much-loved great uncle, Dave Keeton.

Mr Keeton took his own life in April this year. He was an educational psychologist, who worked with children and young people for most of his life, so the family felt that it was fitting to raise money for services directly supporting them.

According to Tina Chamberlain, CEO of Mind in Harrogate, 72% of young people in Harrogate District have experienced mental health issues since the pandemic.

She told The Stray Ferret:

“The lack of essential mental health services for young people means that when they eventually pluck up the courage to seek help there is often a lack of adequate support and long waiting lists.”

On their Just Giving page, the family added:

“Opportunities for young people to meet and build relationships face-to-face have disappeared as youth centres and swimming pools have closed, fuelling an epidemic of loneliness.”

The new proposed support service will attempt to alleviate this problem. It will integrate programmes like Drawing and Talking as well as support groups for issues like post-covid anxiety.

The family hope this will provide an effective way for children and young people to process emotional pain or trauma.

In the last week, the fundraiser has seen a huge boost thanks to Felix’s haircutting event generating an extra £2,500 in donations. It is now only a few hundred pounds away from reaching its £10k target.

Felix’s Grandfather, John Barnes told The Stray Ferret:

“The event has worked wonders to raise money and awareness of the issue. Our fundraiser is now well ahead of target thanks to Felix and we’ll be asking him for more creative ideas”

Felix’s mother Suzannah Hepworth commented:

“I am hugely proud of Felix. We were totally blown away by his decision to voluntarily sacrifice his hair as it’s is such a big thing for a nine-year-old to do”

“Felix’s hair is a huge part of his look and his vibe, so to him, cutting it is the biggest sacrifice he could’ve made to show how much he cares and get people to donate”

If you would like to donate or find out more please click the link to the fundraiser here.

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New world cuisine supermarket to open in Harrogate

A new world cuisine supermarket is set to open its doors in Harrogate.

The owners of the All Nations Supermarket hope to open the store in August.

The shop, which is based on Skipton Road in Bilton, used to be a Jewson branch before being leased to its new owners earlier this year.

All Nations Supermarket will offer a wide selection of food and produce from Asian, African, Middle Eastern and European cultures. Halal food will also be stocked.

Amjad Ali, director of the supermarket, said that he wanted to set up in Harrogate due to a high demand for ethnic foods in the town.

While Harrogate has some Polish shops there are currently very few Asian, African or Middle Eastern shops available for residents.

Mr Ali said:

“There are no other shops like this in Harrogate so we want to welcome all people to the supermarket and offer as much as we can”

He told the Stray Ferret that renovations are ongoing and there is still a lot of work to be done but hopes to open as soon as possible. He plans to announce a set opening date a week in advance on social media.

The supermarket has already seen interest from Harrogate locals, with a post on a community Facebook group, announcing the shop’s imminent opening being positively received.

One commenter said:

“This will be a huge success I think, we need something like this. I don’t think there’s anywhere locally with a proper range of Asian food.”

Mr Ali said he was hopeful for the future of All Nations Supermarket and added:

“I absolutely feel welcomed in Harrogate and have already received lots of positive comments about the shop”

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Killinghall headteacher retires after 13 years

A headteacher at a village primary school near Harrogate is retiring this week after 13 years in the position.

Sarah Bassitt, who began teaching 36 years ago, became headteacher of Killinghall Church of England Primary School in 2011.

At the time, the school was struggling financially and accommodated 83 students.

The number has more than doubled to 180 in the decade since, during which Ms Bassitt has overseen major developments at the school, including three new classrooms, a library and a larger playground.

The school was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at its most recent inspection last year.

However, Ms Bassitt said:

“My vision for the school has never been about grades and judgements, it’s been driven by creating positive opportunities that mean that children can thrive and be happy.”

During her time as head, she also helped the school through many challenges, such as an asbestos roof fall in 2013, covid and a flood last year which left some classrooms out of use for months.

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A leaving day was held last week to celebrate Ms Bassitt’s time as headteacher, at which parents and pupils at said their goodbyes and wished her luck.

Ms Bassitt said:

“I feel privileged to have worked with the staff, governors, parents and pupils of Killinghall CE Primary School – they have been my life for over 13 years and I will miss them all”

“I will still be involved in education, as I intend to maintain my position on an education board for a local federation of schools. Playing golf and walking will fill my time, as well as holidays in term time!”

She also expressed her gratitude to business manager Helen Potter and Elouise Foster, the first staff member she appointed in 2011, who were also leaving and said:

“The vision for the school has been theirs, not just mine, and they have supported me every step of the way.”

Is a long-serving teacher retiring at your local school this week? Let us know at

Ripon knitters make teddies to help children joining first year of school

A Ripon knitting group has given hand-made teddies to children entering reception this September.

The teddies were given to children joining Highfield Prep School to help ease the transition to primary school.

The teddies, which were knitted in the colours of the Harrogate school’s uniform, were made by a team from the Ripon Community Poppy Project in June.

For many children, major changes to their routines and environments, such as moving to primary school, can be very stressful. They are also particularly prone to separation anxiety at this stage.

Extra reassurance is often needed to help ease these distressing emotions, especially for socially anxious and neurodivergent children.

Head of Early Years & Foundation Stage at the school, Kathryn Wilson, came up with the idea to hand out teddies to comfort new pupils and said:

“We wanted to give the children something to take home over the Summer to encourage them to talk about joining Reception with their parents.

“They can also take the teddies on adventures over the Summer and then come and tell us all about them in September.

Hazel Barker, a friend of Ms Wilson and one of the knitting circle’s leaders, said the group was “delighted” to help out

She commented:

“We get involved with all sorts of community projects. Because I have known Kathryn such a long time, it felt like a special request we could accommodate.”

Ms Wilson added:

“We also hope that it will be a comfort for the children to bring their teddies in with them in September on their first day at ‘big school’.”

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Harrogate Theatre announces full cast for this year’s Christmas panto

Harrogate Theatre has announced the full cast of this year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington.

Beloved actor, Tim Stedman will join the Christmas panto once again to play the role of Idle Jack.

This will be Mr Stedman’s 23rd pantomime with Harrogate Theatre since his first appearance in its 2000 production of Sleeping Beauty.

However, one familiar name that won’t be appearing this year is Howard Chadwick, who has often played the dame.

The show is set to start on November 22 and will run until January 14 2024. Tickets are already up for sale and, as usual, are selling fast.

Alongside Mr Stedman, this year’s cast will include Naail Ishaq as Dick Whittington, Faye Weerasinghe as Alice Fitzwarren and Michael Lambourne as the evil King Rat.

In addition, the pantomime will be welcoming newcomers, Shannon Rewcroft as Fairy Bow-Bells, Anna Campkin as Tammy the Cat, and Harry Wyatt as Sarah the Cook.

Ms Rewcroft commented:

“I’m very much looking forward to a Yorkshire Christmas in beautiful Harrogate and getting to work!”

A chorus of twelve dancers aged 13-17 will also accompany the main cast of Dick Whittington. Auditions for the roles will be held tomorrow and will see aspiring young dancers from across the district attend.

The annual panto is Harrogate Theatre’s most popular show and draws thousands of visitors to the town each year.

A spokesperson said this year’s production would be “packed with sparkle, silliness, and side-splitting jokes” – as it is every year…

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Conservation trust seeks public’s views on district’s rivers

A river conservation trust has launched a survey asking for the public’s views on problems facing their local rivers.

The Dales to Vale River Network (DVRN) survey is made up of seven different questionnaires, each on a different river in North Yorkshire.

The aim is to discover what the public thinks are the main challenges facing rivers across the county.

The DVRN is a partnership of interest groups, farmers, and charities that all want to improve the biodiversity and water quality of local rivers, including those running through the Harrogate District such as the Nidd and the Ure.

Charlotte Simons, senior catchment partnerships manager for the DVRN explained why the survey was created:

“We’re keen to hear how people see the rivers, what issues they are concerned about and what improvements they would like to see within the seven catchment areas.”

“We want to have a strategic approach to projects that deliver benefits to the public, the rivers, and the ecosystems that depend on these watercourses.”

The trust created a similar survey for the same purpose in 2017. This is the first time that it will be held online where it hopes to reach more people and collect at least 100 responses per river catchment.

Ms Simons told the Stray Ferret that communities in catchments along the River Nidd and Ure have voiced numerous concerns about the health of the river.

Communities near the middle and lower Nidd are particularly worried about water quality and release of raw sewage. Many have also supported the removal of man-made barriers blocking the movement of fish along the river.

Along the River Ure, environmental organisations and locals want the trust to prioritise the issue of habitat removal and rising water temperatures.

Ms Simons is hopeful that this year’s survey results will help the DVRN decide its next steps to protect local rivers

She added:

“By working together with local communities and organisations rather than independently we can achieve so much more.”

The survey is open and will close on September 8. To find out more or take part in the survey click here.

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Harrogate woman with brain tumour starts fundraiser to “save others”

A terminally ill woman from Harrogate has launched a fundraiser for the Brain Tumour Charity.

Sheena Blake was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma in June. It’s an incurable brain tumour which cannot be operated on.

Sheena, who is 38 years old, works as a teaching assistant and is the mother of two young girls.

In a video posted to her Facebook page, she said that the diagnosis had been heart-breaking for her family but that she would not go down without a fight.

Sheena has started to fundraise for The Brain Tumour Charity, a UK-based organisation that funds global research into brain tumours and offers support for those affected by the disease.

She said:

“Unfortunately, I am one of many people fighting this horrible disease and I have to do everything in my power to turn it into something good and positive.

“My Mission is to make my girls proud and raise some money to help others going through similar circumstances.

“I am determined to do some good, it might not be able to save me but it absolutely could help save someone else”

Sheena intends to start radiotherapy and chemotherapy to slow her tumour’s growth and explained how fundraising would motivate help her to keep going during this difficult time .

Since its launch a week ago, the charity fundraiser has received over £7,000 in donations, exceeding its initial £5,000 target.

Sheena commented:

“I can’t believe how generous and kind people have been.

“I’ve gone over my target so I’m running with it. This is going to be my focus, this is going to give me the push that I need to keep fighting.”

If you wish to donate or find out more click the link to Sheena’s fundraiser here.

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New owner reopens Knaresborough vintage café

A popular Knaresborough café has reopened its door to customers.  Scarlett’s Vintage Tea Rooms is a 1940’s themed café and known for its vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menu.

After 8 years of running the café Sarah Williams handed the reigns over to a new owner, Lucyanne Thompson, in June.

Lucyanne had originally been looking for a café in Ripon before she found Scarlett’s Vintage Tea Rooms.

She said:

“It ticked every box for me and the vintage theme was really appealing”

Lucyanne has renovated much of the tea room’s interior and made changes to its menu to include more options for non-vegetarian and vegan customers.

Sarah Williams commented:

“Lucyanne is really excited about taking over and will be keeping the essence of the tearoom alive and adding some new ideas that I am sure the customers will love.“

Lucyanne said she felt the opening day was a very successful event despite an unexpected surge in customers, thanks to the support of the community.

She added:

“I love the space and the people in Knaresborough are lovely”

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600 people to compete in orienteering race in Harrogate and Knaresborough

A major international orienteering event will be held in Harrogate and Knaresborough this weekend.

The City Race Euro Tour includes orienteering contests in major towns and cities across Europe every year.

For the first time, the Harrogate area has been made one of the nine stops on the tour, which also includes places such as Córdoba, Ancona, Vigo, Ghent and London.

More than 600 people have signed up for the race, which takes place on July 15 and 16.

Kay Hawke, project officer at British Orienteering, said:

“Participants from across the UK and Europe will be tackling the orienteering courses set around the locations with different length (and difficulty) courses for different age groups, meaning that there is a course suitable to the very young, families and beginners to the elderly”

The weekend event will start with a sprint race around Knaresborough Castle and, on the following day, participants will tackle an urban course set in and around Harrogate Ladies College.

Ms Hawke added:

“Funding has been secured from North Yorkshire Council to create an accessible course at the Sunday Harrogate event which is wheelchair and limited mobility friendly.”

Orienteers have also been invited to a free guided tour of Harrogate led by local guide Harry Satloka as well as a meal at the Old Bell pub on Saturday evening.

Prizes will be provided by local companies and artists, including the Harrogate Chocolate Factory – a social enterprise helping young people with learning disabilities to gain valuable work skills.

To learn more about the European City Race and how to take part, visit the website here.

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