Hello, I’m Melanie, and I’m Chair of this year’s Kettlewell Scarecrow Committee.

This is both my first year on the committee and first year as Chair, and I’ll admit that the 2020 festival isn’t entirely what I envisaged at the end of 2019. We all know why.

What people may not know is that Kettlewell relies greatly on the donations received from the Scarecrow Festival each year. We’re part of a rural community that works hard to make this a welcoming area for people of all generations. As much as we welcome tourists, we also need to keep families in the village or we become no more than a holiday dormitory, rather than the active and supportive community we currently have. Because of that, it’s vitally important to fund some things that make a huge difference.

Where your donations go

Kettlewell School provides primary teaching children to children from Kettlewell and the surrounding villages as part of the Upper Wharfedale Primary Federation. It may be a small school, but this also means children can receive more individual attention, and it’s a tribute to the dedication of the staff that the school has received an Ofsted rating of Good.

Kettlewell Village Hall provides facilities for clubs and toddler groups and sporting activities, as well as being where you eat your cake during the Festival. It also hosts wedding receptions, film nights and live events for the local community, craft fairs and horticultural shows, and more besides.

The church of St Mary’s Kettlewell is the spiritual heart of the village. For a small village, a decent-sized regular congregation worships there, as indeed do people visiting the village. All the traditional hatching, matching and dispatching happens there, too, and it’s a place of serenity and welcome when needed by people of all faiths and none.

To add to all that, we support a lot of small groups and causes that add to life in the village.

When we had to cancel the Festival, it was in the full knowledge that doing so meant our causes would struggle for funding. In an ordinary year, the church, school and hall would receive around £10,000 each from your donations, and this money is relied upon for maintenance of the buildings, providing essential equipment, and keeping all of them open and functioning for the good of the community. Without any one of these three, let alone the smaller causes and groups, the village would be very much the poorer: we would fail to attract and keep young families in both our village and others nearby, the lack of a local social life might lead to isolation for many of those living here, and so on.

We can’t hope to raise with this virtual festival the sums we normally would in person, but if we have brought a smile to your face, entertained the children for a while, maybe introduced a new soup or cake to your culinary repertoire, or in some other way entertained and diverted you, please consider putting some money in the virtual collecting bucket. If you can’t afford to – and we know well here the economic impact Covid-19 has had on families across the country – please consider sharing our virtual festival on social media with a glowing recommendation, because that also helps to get the word out elsewhere.

With thanks from all of us,

Kettlewell Scarecrow Committee