In the austerity programme of 2010, the government announced major cuts to public and welfare spending, which amounted to billions of pounds.

Libraries were a major loser, and ultimately 800 closed permanently. In some areas, dedicated bands of volunteers came together to save their services – and Stokesley is one such example.

"They were such huge cuts, we didn't know if the library would survive," says Dave Heggarty, chair of the trustees of Stokesley Globe. "So myself, Bob Roberts and Peter Chandler, all of whom are still trustees, met together to try deter the closure, as we saw it as such an important asset to the community.

Darlington and Stockton Times: A card workshop at The Globe in Stokesley Picture: PAUL HUNTER

"We had two choices – we could run it as a community space with volunteers, as all paid librarians had been made redundant, or do nothing, and it closes."

Bob set up a trustees group, and volunteered to be both chair and secretary.

"For those first few years, he was a hero," says Dave. "We had no experience and no money, but he set up the whole process with North Yorkshire County Council and we formed a working partnership with Jackie Nithakorn as their representative. We had to set up the whole operating process, such as health and safety, safeguarding, security, fire risks and so much more. We were rookies – all this was new to us."

As a new building, the library's rates bill from Hambleton District Council were £20,000, which Dave says was "an impossible sum to find". "Volunteers would be working to just pay the rates," he says. "We thought, that's it – we are going to have to close. However, we eventually decided to set ourselves up as a charity, and the charitable status opened doors. We came to an agreement with Hambleton about the rates, applied for grants and found business and council sponsors from the town and surrounding villages. Their funding includes the employment of library managers, and we are so grateful for this."

Darlington and Stockton Times: Chatting on the couch at The Globe in Stokesley Picture: PAUL HUNTER

The Globe became a community hub, the heart of which are the cheerful and helpful volunteers, working in a safe, warm, welcoming space. It was launched on April 1, 2017, with historical novelist and academic Philippa Gregory performing the official opening on June 15.

Jane Hall was the first library manager, and started the ball rolling for the Globe to become the community hub it now is, leading the band of enthusiastic volunteers for two years. When she left the role, more than 50 trustees and volunteers came to wish her well.

At her farewell presentation Sue Ward, volunteer coordinator, told her: "Because of your vision and persistence, coupled with your very hard work, the Globe is a very happy place."

In the same year, The Globe was commended for outstanding performance as part of the Library of the Year Awards 2018/19.

Gill de Cosimo took over from Jane, and with Sue, created a social media platform and newsletter, developing links to schools which no longer have libraries or easy access to books. However, further plans were scuppered as Covid struck.

The library was closed, but Gill continued to work there, often alone. She started a click and collect system, and working closely with Community Care, which is housed in the same building, helped to run a food bank. Gill would add jigsaws and games to the packages for NHS workers and their families who were in isolation.

"We wanted to keep in touch, so people didn't feel isolated," says Gill. "Our library supervisor Jackie Nithakorn rang everyone on our system to make sure they were okay. Eventually, we reopened but very slowly and gradually, as we wanted people to feel safe, and I think we were the first library in the area to do so."

After Covid, the Globe continued to grow with over 20 organisations and societies using the space, including Stokesley History Group. Even when the library is closed, North Yorkshire Physiotherapy delivers a fitness class. There is also yoga, and Climate Action use it for their meetings.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Children from Stokesley Primary at The Globe Picture: PAUL HUNTER

"We have a range of activities and classes available for children from the age of four, and so many for adults too," says Sue. "What stands out with the library is that we cater for all ages and interests. We start with Friday Storytime for under fours, at 10.30am, even during school holidays. There is also Lego Club for little ones every other Tuesday. For all ages we have a Code Club and 3D Printing, Chess Club, Bridge, and Ipad workshops. We offer practical help through agencies such as Citizen's Advice and so much more, all to assist and help the needs of the people in our community."

The trustees run the space, financially, and practically, and many lend their skills to develop the space as an accessible and useful community hub. Many have multiple roles, such as Carolyn Kitching, who is a trustee, volunteer, treasurer and part of the management team.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Carolyn Kitching, trustee of The Globe in Stokesley Picture: PAUL HUNTER

"There are very few public spaces to go to where you don't have to spend money," says Carol Dell Price, who shares the job of library manager. She is the driving force behind the refurbishment programme for the Globe, and its further development as a cultural and social hub. "It's such a warm and light space," she says. "People pop in for a coffee and sit on comfortable sofas to read the paper or to have a chat with us, or ask for help. I cannot speak highly enough of our volunteers who are critical to the Globe's success. They have so many skills and go way beyond what is expected of volunteers in engaging and supporting our community. We have been named as one of the most successful libraries in North Yorkshire, with a footfall of 35,000 a year."

In the last two years relations between Stokesley agencies, the Globe, Broadacres and Community Care, has developed by working together on a bi-annual joint tea party for seniors, many of whom live alone or in isolated places. This year has taken on a D-Day theme with Stokesley History Group also being involved, as well as musical entertainment. The Repair Cafe, emulating the TV show, is hugely popular, as is the monthly Film Night, which is always a sell-out.

The Globe is quickly developing as an arts centre hosting talks and theatre as well as creative writing groups and literary events. A partnership has been established with Rural Arts in Thirsk, which means that the Globe will be hosting a variety of professional music and theatre events in the near future.

"We received a lottery grant of £19,000 to help with our refurbishment," says Dave. "The building is heavily used and we want to get it ready for the next 20 years."

Carol adds: "We have moved the PCs so we can have a flexible events space. We are improving the lighting, furniture and soft furnishings, as well as the welcome space, front desk areas and children's space. Nothing has been done for 19 years so we want to make it relevant to 2024 and onwards."

One of the regular users of the library says: " I have had such wonderful support here and I can't imagine Stokesley without this fantastic community space."

Gone are the days where a library is only about books, and The Globe is always looking for volunteers as it changes, grows and develops.

"Please contact us on, or call 01609 533461," says Carol. "We would love you to join us."