MORE than 80 supporters turned out for the launch of a new friends group to help open and maintain a community library.

Author Alan Bennett sent a special message of support, writer David Young brought his latest book, Stasi Child, and MP Rishi Sunak signed up as a friend of Bedale Library.

Volunteers have rallied round to launch the new community library and the Friends Group has been formed to raise money to keep the library going.

Chair Susan Perkins said: “We are delighted that so many local people attended the launch of this fund-raising group. We now have 150 ‘Friends’ as well as the support of several local businesses. Their donations will contribute towards the running costs for the first year. From 1 April, the library will be run by volunteers. We hope that people might drop in and meet the generous people who are giving up their time to ensure that Bedale and the surrounding villages retain a much valued local service”.

At the launch Nobby Dimon of North Country Theatre performed a series of readings from Bedale’s most famous writer Robert Hird, who created a series of diaries about the town up to 1843.