RESIDENTS who had no previous experience of stone carving are putting the finishing touches to work that is set to be displayed permanently outside a new housing development in Thirsk.

Until they started stone sculpting workshops in June this year Alison Britton, James Bower, Wendy Gibson Brown, Patricia Hunt, Carol Holland and Graham Penson had never picked up a mallet and chisel.

Just months later, the volunteers have almost completed work on four sandstone boulder stones being made as part of the public art programme at Sowerby Gateway on the outskirts of Thirsk.

The designs depict local scenes and landmarks from Sowerby, Thirsk and the surrounding countryside, including the packhorse bridge, Kilburn White Horse, gliding at Sutton Bank and horse racing at Thirsk.

The carvings, on four stones weighing 1.5 tonnes each, are being displayed at Thirsk Garden Centre where the workshops have been taking place under the guidance of stone sculptor Michael Disley.

Fiona Coleman, of developer Mulberry Homes Yorkshire, said: "I find it hard to believe that this quality of work can be made by people with no previous experience of stone carving, it just goes to show what creativity there is in Thirsk and Sowerby and what potential there is for community art when an opportunity like this arises."