On a Tuesday, a film about a year in Coverdale is premiered in Leyburn. Janet Gleeson talks to its makers

PUBLISHERS Rosalie Parker and Ray Russell have suffered for their dale over the past year. In wind rain, snow and even some sunshine they’ve covered Coverdale, filming the people, places and events on their doorstep. Now they’ve made a unique film of a year in the life of a community which is rooted in rural history but has kept up with modern times and is looking forward to the future.

Coverdale in the 21st Century is a collection of ten settlements, stretching from Wensleydale to the edge of Wharfedale, and it’s often dubbed the "Hidden Dale".

The couple decided to make the film after they did a recording of the annual Foresters’ Day celebrations which raised money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

“We wanted to record the changing seasons and the people of the dale, and doing it over a year meant we could reflect both. We are publishers, filming is a hobby so we just went out with our cameras, we asked everyone’s permission and eventually I think they forgot we were there,” said Ms Parker.

The film is a global overview of the dale, reflecting not just the changing weather but the economy, the farms, the businesses and the life that means Coverdale survives as a thriving place. And what makes it all the more impressive is Rosalie and Ray say nothing, they don’t appear in the film at all – they let the people and the place do the talking.

“We were very keen not to appear," said Mr Russell. "We didn’t want that distraction, so there was no script, we just let people talk. It’s not a documentary; it’s a diary. We had to be quite ruthless eventually, in the first week we had three hours of filming, which would have meant at the end of the year we would had to wade through hours and hours, so we did ourselves a big favour and edited as we went along which was really the best way to do it.

“One of the other problems was the wind. We had to buy a new microphone. The wind made it difficult sometimes because there is never a still day in Coverdale – but then that’s the dale.”

They prevailed upon friends and neighbours, filming in the game dealer's shop next door, which is owned by one of the stars of the show, Lawrie Dent, but they also met many new people. They filmed at a modern dairy unit and on a more traditional farm, as well as recording the farming year in the fields.

One of the major events is Foresters' Day. The couple believe that the village of Carlton is unique in carrying on the tradition which dates back over 180 years. The area joined the Foresters' Society – a friendly society designed to come to the aid of people in hard times – in the mid 19th Century, and celebrated with a day of marching and fun. After only a few years, the village stopped making donations to the society – but carried on with the day of marching and fun. Now it’s a highlight of the calendar of the dale, with a large proportion of residents turning out with their green costumes, many handed down through generations, to join in the march, the sports and the celebrations.

The wheelbarrow race is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the film.

There are many others: the new use for the old red telephone box could only happen in the Dales, the parish council meetings, the WI gathering and trick or treating at Halloween, not to mention the pub and the centre of entertainment, The Foresters Arms, where there was controversy at the Christmas quiz.

Rosalie and Ray aren’t the most obvious nominees for the job of chronicling the dale, as they only arrived in Carlton in 2000, moving from Sussex to expand their publishing business, Tartarus Press.

“We know that to be regarded as a local you have to have several generations of relatives in the graveyard, but we had friends here and Rosalie had family, and because we work from home we could be anywhere, so we chose the prettiest part of the country we could find,” said Mr Russell.

They both feel it has been an adventure and the film is in some part a payback to the dale in which they have made their home. The film is being unveiled at a special world premiere at Tennants of Leyburn on Tuesday, February 9, at 6.30pm. Proceeds from the premiere and profits from the film are being donated to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. For information go to www.coverdalefilm.com