A NORTH Yorkshire youth group that meet to learn heritage crafts and wilderness skills have not let lockdown stop them, embracing technology.

The Bright Sparks, a group of 14 to 19-year-olds who meet in Thirsk to master heritage crafts, learn wilderness skills and take part in outdoor pursuits, have roped-in local craftspeople to teach them traditional skills via video calls.

The Ignite Yorkshire group - a £1m National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported project designed to encourage young people take inspiration from and connect with the region’s industrial past to develop new skills for the future - began their weekly Zoom meet-ups by taking turns to teach each other new skills, such as rope making and blacksmithing, which led to a timetable of practical sessions with local, historical craftspeople, including stained glass specialist, Magda from Magdooshka Creates, and hand carving expert, Tom Webbon at Lime Tree Cottage.

These skills will be put to use after lockdown in the construction of ‘Bodger’s Lodge’, a time-honoured wooden framed building, which has already seen the Bright Sparks’ team-up with blacksmiths, cabinet makers and even historic whittlers and woodcrafters to form a small outdoor classroom amongst the trees at Carlton Lodge Activity Centre, to be used as a heritage crafts learning centre.

Youth worker at North Yorkshire Youth, Sally Clifford, who facilitates the Bright Sparks, said: “These young people are passionate about heritage and the great outdoors, and these sessions have not only allowed them to continue to focus on their interests, but gives them new skills to try out when lockdown eventually ends and well into the future.

"Importantly, it’s also allowing them to check-in on each other in an informal way during this strange and worrying time.

"The power of bringing the team together cannot be underestimated at the moment, and it’s great to see how the historical demonstrations actually lend themselves perfectly to video conferencing technology.”

Magda, founder of Magdooshka Creates stained glass studio said: “It’s been a real pleasure to be involved with the Bright Sparks, and I’m really grateful to them for inviting me. I love sharing my knowledge and I’ve learnt a lot too. The whole process is amazing.”

Anyone, aged 14-25 who is based in Yorkshire and interested in heritage and the outdoors, can get involved by emailing sally@nyy.org.uk