Vital community organisations showcased at Photography Exhibition win funding

It was a real pleasure to welcome our six photography competition winners, along with an excited audience, to Allerton Castle last week to showcase their brilliant photographs depicting the people and amazing work they do. 

Run in conjunction with Clare Granger, the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire, the Photography Exhibition & Showcase gave local business leaders, friends and supporters of Two Ridings the opportunity to view the impact of community organisations through 16 superb photographs, and get to hear the stories directly behind the images. 

Celia McKeon, Chief Executive at Two Ridings said the event highlighted the everyday extraordinary work of community action across our region. 

A group of people listening to a speech

Clare Granger, High Sheriff of North Yorkshire

The High Sheriff welcomed everyone to the event, before handing over to Simon Hill, President of the Royal Photography Society, who spoke about the joys and dilemmas of chairing the judging panel. 

Packed into the beautiful ballroom at the castle the winning groups then had their opportunity to shine. 

Artizan International explained the difference the busy Harrogate city centre cafe made to the adults with learning disabilities they supported. The project provides real-life working experience, a sense of confidence and self-esteem. Sam, pictured with his friend Will was delighted at their achievement. 

Liz from Artizan said: 

“The Two Ridings photography competition and showcase event gave the Artizan Cafe and Creative Space an opportunity to share it’s joyful work widely to new audiences and then to see how that was received and embraced by everyone we met has given us such a boost as a team!

We were delighted to win first place and the funding is very well timed as we need to replace key pieces of equipment such as a dishwasher and under counter fridges and freezer. We thought this was a very clever and engaging way to be able to apply for funding and we look forward to Two Ridings next idea!”

collage of people receiving an award at an event

Artizan International, Harrogate

Scarborough & Ryedale Mountain Rescue told stories of the different situations they find themselves supporting. From a local women with mental health issues lost in a wood in Elvington, to the three days searching for a missing person on a coast. 

Their work is as much about searching for missing people as rescuing, and their patch is the largest in the country, from Goole to Whitby and from the A1 to the coast. 

Scarborough Mountain Rescue explaining the work they do in front of a photo of their landrover

Scarborough & Ryedale Mountain Rescue

Chopsticks in Northallerton’s delightful picture of Barry made everyone smile. 

We heard that as well as the kindling bags they create from donated scrap wood and sell throughout the region, they also provide gardening services, and  craft, woodwork and art sessions, all with an eye to creating items that people want to buy. 

“Entering this competition has given us the chance to not only showcase what we do, but also to see and hear about some of the other amazing organisations in our region, with whom we definitely intend to work in the future. We had such a wonderful time and met so many amazing people. The whole evening was inspiring. 

We aim to spend the funds on items to expand the services we can offer our clients, including the purchase of a machine for use in the production of items in our crafting area.”

An image of a person working at a north yorkshire charity and people laughing together at a photography exhibition


The Walled Garden Whitby, only running for just over a year, is already proving a haven for wellbeing for the volunteers that spend time there. A beautiful location has been turned around by a dedicated team and they work hand in hand with other organisations, the NHS and mental health services to help people grow and blossom, just like the produce. 

Image of a picture of a garden and a woman presenting about it

Effie from Walled Garden Whitby

1st Pannal Scout Group talked about the 80 or so children and young people involved in their group and how they lead them to the activities they wanted to do. They are currently refurbishing their Scout Hall, a place for the whole community to use, and their prize money will go directly to some match funding for that. 

Shine 21 founder Louise talked passionately about her own experience of having a baby with down syndrome and the barriers she came up against. She went on to talk about how she found answers and went on to help other parents too. Her photos showed the progress and learning of one young girl who was really blossoming from the support Shine 21 gives. 

Shine 21 won the audience’s hearts and was also the recipient of the ‘bonus’ audience award. 

Louise said: 

“Shine21 is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to showcase our photography and the work we do. We are passionate about making a difference and raising awareness of Down Syndrome. The evening allowed us to do that as well as win vital funds. We were delighted to have won £2,000 and the audience vote on the evening. The funds raised will allow our little stars to access Down Syndrome specific early intervention.”

woman presenting next two a photo of two young girls with down's syndrome

Louise at Shine 21

There was much joy and whooping at the actual certificates being given out, and Celia, the Two Ridings Chief Executive closed the evening explaining why the work of these groups, and the hundreds more Two Ridings support every year, is truly extraordinary.

“Firstly, the work everyone here does is the humble, selfless work of people acting out of love. People who are volunteering, or working for very modest pay. It’s people like Pannal Scouts showing up at a scout hut week in, week out, or people leaving their phone on to respond to a 2am callout on a rainy night. People offering their time and service to create opportunities for other people that wouldn’t otherwise exist. They are doing it for human connection, for growth, for recovery. That is extraordinary.  

“Secondly, some of the people who are in these images and supported by this work are among the most marginalized in our society. These are people who are often failed by our institutions. And yet they are centred in these images. And that is because they are centred in the work of the organisations. And for a brief moment this evening, they are centred here. It shouldn’t be extraordinary, but it is, and it is essential.  

“Thirdly, this work is transformational. It changes people’s lives. The act of welcoming people through a door and offering them a hot meal, or inviting them to join a dance class, or to learn a skill or to grow something – these opportunities can and do often trigger and support processes of personal transformation. It is extraordinary to realise the impact of what might seem like small gestures, simple activities. But it is real.   

“This everyday extraordinary work is the power of community action, and it enriches all our lives. We must not take it for granted. Yes, we are celebrating it tonight. But we must also support it tomorrow.” 

Photo of woman making a speech on some stairs

Celia McKeon, Chief Executive of Two Ridings Community Foundation

She went on to say how honoured Two Ridings were to support their work and praised our incredible donors and supporters to enable the foundation to channel resources direct to the front line, right where it would make a difference. She also talked about the Cost of Living Crisis Fund appeal, encouraging people to dig deep. 

“We recently re-launched our Cost of Living Crisis appeal. Because in low-income families across our region, people are skipping meals, going without a warm shower, or living in a cold house. People are unable to afford their prescriptions. Having to make choices about which aspects of their basic human dignity they will sacrifice in order to make ends meet. 

“For these people – and there are tens of thousands in our region at least – community organisations are an absolute lifeline. They provide food parcels, and support with fuel costs, and other emergency supplies. They open their doors to provide warm hubs where people can get a cuppa, or a hot meal, and crucially, some friendly and supportive company. 

“But these community organisations are also facing rising costs and sometimes skyrocketing demand. Our Cost of Living Fund is intended to cover the additional costs of some of these emergency supplies that people will need to survive the winter. And organisations can also apply for funding for their operating costs, so that they can pay the bills that allow them to turn on the radiator, put on the kettle, or restock the shelves for the people walking through the door. 

“So if you’ve been moved by the images and the stories tonight, I would ask you to please consider a contribution to this appeal. Every donation makes a difference, and working together, we can make sure that the funds get to all the corners of our region and to the people who need them most.” 

The evening carried on after the speeches with supporters wanting to know more, and an excited buzz of an event where community action, and the people behind it, took centre stage. 

One of the people from a winning group told us “This is the best things I have ever done”.

We are very grateful for everyone who attended and supported it. 

The winning groups were: 

Our People category

1st – Artizan International: £3,000
2nd – Chopsticks: £2,000
3rd  – Walled Garden Whitby: £1,000

Our Place category

1st – 1st Pannal Scout Group: £3,000
2nd – Shine 21: £2,000
3rd– Scarborough & Ryedale Mountain Rescue: £1,000

Audience Prize

Shine 21: £2,000

Highly commended groups

All highly commended groups will also receive £400 from money raised on the evening.

Dancing for Wellbeing, Chopsticks, Clothes Bank Harrogate, KYRA Women’s Project -York, New Beginnings Peer Support -Harrogate, York Racial Equality Network, Open Country, Sutton Social Committee, The Conservation Volunteers York. Whitby Walled Garden

Clare Granger reflected:

“I was so thrilled that so many of the volunteer groups entered into the spirit of the photographic competition with such enthusiasm. They produced some wonderful photos and it was such a pleasure to be able to give out 16 cash prizes!

“I was so proud of the shortlisted charities for using the platform to speak so engagingly about what they do and the difference they make.”

Picture of a woman presenting and a castle

Clare Granger, High Sheriff of North Yorkshire and Allerton Castle

Thank you to Allerton Castle for hosting us, for Waverton for sponsoring the food and drink and the judges and High Sheriff for their generosity with time and investment.

To support people and communities throughout York, North & East Yorkshire and Hull
Donate to the Cost of Living Crisis Fund

To discuss your personal giving, contact Celia on [email protected]