'Happy to help' - Meet the kind-hearted Danby resident who always looks out for others

In a modern era characterised by convenience and continual strides in technology, the connections we have with one another are in many ways greater than ever before.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 12:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 12:46 pm

And yet, as these connections grow, where we are able to communicate with almost anybody at the click of a mouse or the press of a button, some people may fear that the golden age of looking out for our neighbours has been lost as the busyness of everyday life consumes us, and we become absorbed by what is happening on a screen rather than what is

going on around us.

Social contact in the traditional sense, a simple ‘hello’ in the street, or small but powerful gestures to show that we care are important now more than ever.

An inspiration to us all: Brian Raw.

In Scarborough and Whitby, and right across the whole of North Yorkshire, we are blessed to have thousands of residents who actively make a difference to so many people’s lives every single day in our communities, and that is something we can all feel truly proud of.

To celebrate this and help to encourage others to do the same, The Scarborough News, in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council and sister JPI Media titles in Yorkshire, is launching a major year-long campaign called Salt of the Earth, which will share inspiring stories and examples of the very easy but meaningful ways that we can all make somebody’s day brighter just by showing some kindness.

Life is busy, and we don’t all have time to sign up and formally volunteer for an organisation, as much as we would like to, which is why Salt of the Earth has a particular focus on the informal but impactful ways that we can be kind and help those around us.

Examples might include a village that has set up a dog walking rota and rallied to help an elderly resident keep their beloved pet despite mobility issues, or it could be somebody who is a real lifeline for their neighbours in the winter, who simply picks up some groceries or clears their drive in icy conditions.

Happy to help: Kind-hearted Brian.

We already know that North Yorkshire is an amazing place, so it’s time to really showcase our kind county – full of people who are the true definition of Salt of the Earth. Let’s work together to inspire even more people to make a difference, and show that even the smallest of gestures can go a long way.

Meet Brian Raw - the Danby resident who brightens everyone's day with his kindness

There’s no better way to relax and unwind than spending a few days away with friends.

As we grow older, friends drift away to far flung areas of the country and we can find ourselves with no-one left to travel with. To help alleviate the pressure of travelling alone, our first Salt of the Earth nominee, Danby resident Brian Raw, 75, has been organising group outings for friends and neighbours for many years.

It started when he lived in Scunthorpe where he organised North Sea Ferries trips to Holland, the Black Forest and Austria. Since returning to North Yorkshire, Brian has taken over the running of the annual Sleights Bowling Club holiday, a complicated task which was organised for many years by Brian’s sister before he took over.

Every other year the club travels to five-star resort Potters in Great Yarmouth for a bowling holiday. Two years ago they stayed in Loch Lomond in a lovely hotel with views of the loch, and this year they travel to Wales’ Bodelwyddan Castle.

While the group is predominantly bowlers, there are also a number of widows and widowers and several Danby residents, and it’s fair to say that over the last few years, on the 53-seater coach, nearly everyone has got to know each other.

Brian and his wife Beryl organise, collect the money, arrange the seating plan, both on the coach and for the evening meals, to ensure everyone has someone to talk to.

Brian even distributes luggage tags to everyone so nothing gets lost!

To make sure everything is in order, final checks are made at the bowling club coffee morning, which is held just before the group travel. Beryl said you can guarantee the one question you will hear is: “Right Brian, what’s the date for next year’s holiday?”

Captain of Sleights Bowling Club ladies team, Lucy White, said: “There is a lady who only goes on that holiday because she knows that Brian will help her and that people will look after you.”

Brian spent much of his early life in the remote village of Fryup in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors, before his career took him to Scunthorpe where he met Beryl. It wasn’t the easiest of upbringings, for the first three years of school Brian would listen to his friends talk about the latest programmes to come on TV, while growing up in a house which was yet to get electricity.

Beryl is clearly proud of him. “He’s what people would call a good neighbour,” she said with a smile. Brian is one of the emergency contacts for a gentleman who lives on his road and is often the first to arrive should he press his lifeline button in need of help. Then there is the elderly lady across the street who calls him her boyfriend ...

One day Brian received a call from her in distress. She said: “I’ve been out shopping and I can’t get through the door.” While the lady had been out, her washing machine had moved across the kitchen floor during a particularly vigorous spin cycle and Brian was the first person she thought of to help her get back in.

Access was quickly regained as he came to her rescue. Brian is chairman of Sleights Bowling Club and also started coaching indoor bowls in Danby Village Hall. He and Beryl also attend Revival North Yorkshire, a Community Interest Company that provides activities and information for older people in and around the Esk Valley.

The group is run by Debbie Swales, of whom Brian said: “Now that’s the sort of person I would like to see get publicity,” keen to seize the opportunity to highlight the good deeds of somebody else.

Debbie was quick to return the compliment, she said: “Brian and Beryl have been coming to Revival North Yorkshire for a couple of years now - they religiously come to every session and can be relied upon to be there. I can ask them to sit with anyone and they’ll make them feel welcome.

“Brian always stands at our end-of-year gathering and gives thanks to the volunteers. It’s nice to have someone that will do that without being asked.”

Caroline and Gwen Smith first met Brian when they started doing Esk Valley Mini Markets, popular craft fairs held across the region.

Gwen was keen to praise Brian’s welcoming nature. She said: “Brian helps with everything from making refreshments for visitors to putting up and taking down the tables.

“He even hoovers and cleans up after the event.

“He also helps us carry our stock boxes as we are both classed as disabled and he stands outside in all weathers to tell people where our event is and hand out flyers.

“His mischievous sense of humour lightens up the dullest day and you can always rely on a giggle to lift your spirits. He gives 100% to any endeavour he takes on & approaches life with a cheerful can do attitude.”

Backing for the new Salt of the Earth campaign

The leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Carl Les, said: “North Yorkshire is held dear to the hearts of many around the world for its warm welcome and strong sense of community spirit.

“We are celebrating those values and our culture by showcasing how acts of kindness, great or small, have a huge impact on our people and places. Whether it’s walking a dog for someone who loves the companionship of their pet but can’t exercise them anymore – or picking up a bit of extra shopping for a neighbour who can’t get out – we know these acts help make our communities really special.”

The chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council, Richard Flinton, said: “We know that North Yorkshire folk are intrinsically kind and we are moved by the really positive impact that generosity has on the lives of people across the county on a daily basis.

“But we also know that sometimes things can get in the way of people feeling empowered to help, even when they really want to. So we hope that by hearing about the experiences of others we can help overcome some of those worries or barriers. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Harrogate Advertiser and other JPI Media newspapers to pay tribute to the people of North Yorkshire and to help inspire even more acts of kindness.”

Join in and be part of our new Salt of the Earth campaign

We would love to invite you to get involved with our Salt of the Earth campaign - is there someone who makes a real difference in your life? It could be that they take you to visit your GP, perhaps they regularly collect your parcels from the sorting office, maybe they always buy an extra cream cake and find time to share it with you.

Whatever it is, we would love to hear about the people who are having a positive impact on your life. Get in touch today by emailing: [email protected]