AN INNOVATIVE project to turn a threatened library into a hub for community activities is gearing up to celebrate its first anniversary.

Great Ayton Library was taken over by a group of volunteers last year, after news the facility was to close was met with a huge public outcry.

Villagers set about organising a campaign group to fight against its closure and eventually the community centre was transferred to its hands.

It was one of six libraries given the go-ahead for community-led operations by North Yorkshire County Council. The council agreed to supply the books and also installed broadband access.

It was renamed the Great Ayton Discovery Centre and reopened in May last year by historical novelist Philippa Gregory.

Now a 10-strong management team and dozens of volunteers run the centre as a hub of village activity, attracting 4,000 visits every month.

It is now a registered charity and has managed to keep afloat with a mixture of parish council and lottery funding and revenue raised by renting out space to community groups, selling handmade crafts and other events.

As well as continuing its book lending service, it is also used as a venue by police when it needs to engage with the community in Great Ayton, since the police station has closed.

The community project is preparing to commemorate its first anniversary with a celebration event on Saturday, June 8.

Simon Jackson, trustee and director of the Discovery Centre said: “It is nice to reach this milestone. This first year has exceeded our expectations.

“When we looked back at the finances for the first period we thought, 'that’s great. We’ve done really well'. Then we thought 'let’s hope things will come together again in a good manner for next year'.

“But we’ve managed to keep all the volunteers together, about 75 people which is really what keeps the rest of us going. They help to make it work.”

The celebration on Saturday, June 8, will involve stalls selling crafts and other items and activities for children aged four to 12. It will take place between 11am and 3.30pm.

Anyone able to lend a gazebo to help keep stallholders out of the rain on the day is asked to contact June Cumbor on 01642-723268 while people interested in selling crafts should ring Pam Dutton on 01642-724442.