North Yorkshire's Great and Little Ouseburn

PUBLISHED: 14:40 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:12 20 February 2013

Great Ouseburn

Great Ouseburn

Two small villages work together to protect their idyllic surroundings. Amanda Griffiths reports PHOTOGRAPHS BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

Great and Little Ouseburn, in North Yorkshire, are separated by a small stretch of river, but the two communities, work together harmoniously.

While residents fundraise tirelessly for their own village halls and churches they combine forces when it comes to the thriving community primary school in Great Ouseburn which serves not only these two villages, but the neighbouring ones too.

Great Ouseburn, with its large red brick houses, manicured lawns and colourful flowerbeds, has an older feel to it. Little Ouseburn also boasts some gorgeous brick properties, with neat gardens and pretty house names but has a quieter feel to it, unsurprising when you think its neighbour has the school, post office and local shop.

Both are idyllic so it's no surprise that the children at the school are encouraged to make the most of their environment and local community, through a number of initiatives. Elizabeth Elgie in Year 4, Jamie Burrell in Year 5 and Gemma Jackson in Year 6 are typical of the 60 or so children who attend the school.

They are keen on the school gardening club where they grow their own vegetables, plants and wildflowers to encourage wildlife. They are members of the Eco Club which allows them to make recycled artworks and encourages them to look into ways of saving water and electricity at school. Pupils have also renamed their classes after endangered species.

'The reception class are the Blue Whales, years two and three are the Red Kites and years four to six are the White Tigers,' says Jamie. 'We had to learn all about them. I knew nothing about white tigers before; we did all sorts of presentations and classroom displays, which was great.'

The trio also described how pupils are involved with the development of the village plan, suggesting ways of improving where they live as well as looking at issues such as the amount of litter and traffic problems including speeding motorists.

'The Red Kites had a project which looked at the possibility of building a new supermarket behind the school,' says Elizabeth. 'We asked parents and villagers if they wanted it or not and then put a case to the parish council who discussed it at a meeting and then came back to us with their results. It was just pretend but it taught us a lot.'

All three say they are proud of their village and are keen to protect it. They also said there are plenty of things going on, something echoed by Kate and Ted Mackown at the Post Office and Village Stores in Great Ouseburn.

'The Spring Festival is the big event in the village,' says Kate. 'It's one of the first open gardens events in the area. They've raised thousands of pounds in the 16 years it's been going; we raised 8,000 this year alone. The proceeds go to the church, the school and the village hall as well as other local projects.

'We've been here for 26 years and we're very lucky that we're not one of the post offices that were affected by the closures last year. I'm not sure what would have happened to the shop if the post office had closed.

'It's a friendly village with a great community spirit. I think that's because of the facilities we still retain - post office, shop, school, church and village hall. The village pub has closed, but we're all hoping it'll re-open soon.'

There seem to be no such worries down the road in Little Ouseburn where Michael Briggs, is landlord at The Green Tree Inn, on the edge of the village. His pub is usually full with people from the organised shoots on the local estates as well as walkers, cyclists and fishermen.

'The village hasn't changed much over the years. I first came here 21 years ago and at that time there was a garage which doubled as a village shop, a butcher's and a post office but now, apart from us, there's just the village hall and the church.

'Both villages work together to fundraise for the school but we raise separate funds for our own churches (even though both are run by the same vicar) and village halls.

'It's just a nice, quiet place to live.'

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