Tholthorpe: Community behind 'Britain's smallest panto' in six-figure fundraising drive to open coffee shop

A major fundraising drive is underway in a Hambleton community to give villagers a new social outlet.

Tholthorpe village green and pond. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

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The New Inn pub in Tholthorpe village. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

Without any shops bar a butchers and having lost its one bus service between Easingwold and York, the village hall committee in Tholthorpe wants to open a coffee shop.

It would be set up in a proposed new extension to the village hall, which is neatly positioned on the village green next to a pond. To realise its vision, the committee needs to raise a whopping £100,000.

Ros Kind, one of the committee members, said: “It would give people a place to drop in, have a coffee, and would get people out of their houses, giving them somewhere social to go to during the week.”

The six-figure total needed to build the coffee shop may sound daunting, but a concerted effort is underway.

“We are at the beginning of the project. We’ve applied for funding from the Co-op and there is government funding we want to put in for,” said Ms Kind, who resettled in the UK from Belgium by moving to the village 11-and-a-half years ago.

“We are engaged with architects and are now at a stage where we need to put our plans forward for planning permission. We need that in place for the main grants we are after. We are fundraising locally as well.”

Tholthorpe does benefit from having a pub, The New Inn, a Methodist chapel and a busy annual events programme.

Coming up on Sunday, September 1, is an annual 10k race organised by villagers which attracts around 400 runners – more people than there are villagers.

“It takes a quarter of the whole village just to steward the race,” said Ms Kind.

Another big attraction is the annual Christmas pantomime at the village hall which has been dubbed ‘Britain’s smallest panto’. Written, directed and performed solely by people from the village, it runs for eight performances every year, usually attracting a full house each time.

Last month, the village hall committee held Midsummer Tholfest on the village green. There were activities for families during the day and live music and a bar in the evening. A ‘Pimms and Strawberries’ social event was held on the green last weekend.

Ms Kind, who explained that she feels compelled to help organise events in the village because of the way she was brought up, said: “We try to provide a whole range of different activities that bring the community together all the way through the year. It’s quite a strong village at the moment.”

This Monday, like every Monday expect for bank holidays, the community is active again when a Primetime session sees older residents enjoy sports activities in the village hall.