THE Ilkley & District Community Showcase took place on Wednesday, June 5 at The Kings Hall & Winter Gardens.

The event attracted 56 local community groups who grasped the opportunity to promote their various organisations to the visiting public.

The idea for the event came from meetings with voluntary organisations hosted by the former Mayor of Ilkley Stephen Butler, during his time in office.

A small organising committee was formed made up of Mr Butler, Community Action Ilkley office manager Mary Hamilton, Stuart Hyde, of the Clarke Foley Centre and Enterprise Link at IGS, Cllr Peter Mate, of Ilkley and District U3A and David Shaw, president of Ilkley Rotary Club, and after many months of hard work the showcase event was put together.

The Two Rivers Trombones opened the event with a fanfare and then Dr Soo Nevison, CEO of Community Action Bradford welcomed everyone. This was followed by a passionate address from the new Deputy Town Mayor Cllr Ros Brown. She spoke about the life long rewards to all concerned volunteering can bring.

Thanks were then expressed to Stephen Butler and Mary Hamilton and her staff from Community Action Ilkley for all their hard work.

The event was supported by: Ilkley Round Table, Ilkley Rotary Clubs, Ilkley Town Council, Shoo Social Media, Print Crew Otley, Ilkley and District U3A and The Clarke Foley Centre. Refreshments were provided by Outside the Box.

Stall holders included: Ilkley Playhouse, Ben Rhydding WI, CTI 2000, Clarke Foley Centre, Wharfedale Scouts and Ilkley Rotary.

Stuart Hyde said: “The event was designed to achieve three things: letting local people know about volunteering opportunities; letting people know about local services available to them and providing a networking opportunity for local groups to meet discuss working together.

“I am glad to say we met all three objectives and it was a great success.

“My thanks go to the rest of the organising team and all the helpers and of course to the deputy mayor for opening the event and her kind words.”

Steve Butler said: “The Community Showcase was one of the four main ideas which the Town Council and Ilkley Community Action decided to promote after a series of meetings with volunteer groups last year. The website, its link to the improved volunteer section on Ilkley Chat and the Showcase have all been success stories. We hope that the fourth idea, an employee, will soon be brought on board at Ilkley Community Action, specifically to work with the voluntary sector in our area, depending on funding arrangements with the Town Council.

“The Showcase was not the first of its kind but the support of Rotary, businesses and Round Table ensured that the publicity was much more effective than in the past. As a result the footfall was visibly higher with a steady flow of visitors all afternoon, attracted in part by the lovely cafe provided by Outside the Box. We are in the process of analysing the evaluation forms from stall holders and visitors but anecdotal evidence speaks of many volunteers being recruited on the day, which is exactly what we wanted.

“The number of stalls (over 50) represented only a fraction of the total voluntary effort in our area and just goes to show how vital volunteers are to the well being of our town. They all deserve our communal thanks.”