2020 has changed everything. Every year typically has a few defining moments, but the past 12 months have contained so many life-changing developments that it’s getting hard to believe we’re not in a simulation that’s running every possible scenario at once.

So, what has been making the headlines locally in 2020? We remember some of the top stories in Ryedale from January to June. Part two next week.


With the distant murmurs of a pandemic brewing in Wuhan, in China, January started with two fundraisers for worthy-causes.

Bella Suggitt, seven, from Pickering, decided she wanted to do something to raise money for The Little Princess Trust after hearing about the charity.

Joanna, Bella’s mum, said that after a year of growing her hair Bella had it chopped-off at Mister Paul’s hairdressers in Pickering.

“She absolutely loves her new hairstyle but did ask how long it would take to grow back,” she said.

James Welham completed a year without alcohol to raise funds for Ryedale & District Mencap.

He enjoyed his first drink just after midnight on New Year’s Day and raised more than £2,200.


In the month of February, tributes were paid to one of the leading men of musical theatre in Ryedale.

John Raine, born in Norton, had a love of music from an early age joining Norton Methodist Church Choir at the age of nine.

After leaving school he went to York Commercial College to study before going into banking. However, he continued with his singing at Pickering Musical Society, where he quickly made a name for himself.

In 1973, he appeared as the Prince where he met his wife, Angela Kirkham, who was playing the lead.

“John was always there for me and he was my soulmate, I miss him dearly,” said Angela.


As spirits began to dampen following news of an impending lockdown, the Ryedale community rallied together.

One of the first groups was Ryedale Covid19 Help Network, which aimed to support self-isolating people by picking up shopping, posting mail or providing a friendly telephone chat.

Ryedale District Cllr Steve Mason, who set up the group with Malton resident Jack Ashton, said: “By having a tight knit community action network we can offer a little more reassurance to people, offer help and at the same time integrate any advice and support from the council.”

Every British citizen tuned into PM Boris Johnson’s announcement on March 23 who confirmed our fears - lockdown.


Ryedale rainbows started appearing in windows as a positive response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The idea first started on social media to bring families together at home to create a rainbow, to make people smile if they are spotted.

In other news, a group set up to make scrubs and PPE for healthcare professionals and key workers had an overwhelming response.

Ryedale Scrubs for the Community was set up by Henny Clark, who came up with the idea after a friend asked if she could make a fabric head band to attach to her mask.


The 75th anniversary of VE Day is traditionally commemorated with pomp and pageantry, but celebrations were different this year.

Ryedale towns and villages brought out the bunting and toasted the anniversary while following social distancing rules. A spectacular display of poppies was created in Hutton-le-Hole, while in other areas the Union Flag was put on display. Younger generations were also involved with wartime-related fancy dress.


A veteran who found himself trapped on the beaches of northern France during the rescue efforts at Dunkirk has recalled his fight for survival 80 years on.

Raymond Whitwell, from Malton, was 20 years old when he joined the army in September 1939 before being sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).

Now 101 years old, Mr Whitwell recalled seeing the desperate and chaotic situation unfolding.

“I looked out and thought ‘this is not for me, I’m not going to get away’,” he said. “We were told it was every man for himself.”