LOOKING through the D&S in recent weeks, it has been wonderful to read about all the community groups and organisations who are returning to their customary ways of operating.

After all those months when virtual gatherings were the only way to get together, it’s great to see our clubs, societies, youth groups and WIs meeting again in person.

Last week, I called in to meet the 1st Northallerton Cubs at their regular Thursday evening activity in the scout and guide centre on Boroughbridge Road.

The centre has just opened and it is a tremendous facility with two meeting rooms, kitchen, and a garage to safely store all their equipment.

The local Scout movement leaders were justifiably proud in showing me round the new centre, which brings together all the groups – Beavers, Brownies, Cubs, Guides, Scouts and Explorers – in one place after many years having to meet in different venues. More than 200 young people now use the centre in the course of a week.

I enjoyed a Q&A session with the Cubs and talking to their leader Amy Southam, who has done sterling work in keeping the pack engaged via Zoom during the pandemic and is now loving being back together properly.

It was a privilege to have the opportunity to present Amy with a certificate to mark her five-year Service Award as a Cub Scout Leader.

Another group which has resumed their normal gatherings is Northallerton Male Voice Choir and I joined their weekly rehearsal last Thursday at Northallerton Methodist Church on the High Street.

The choir is 41-strong and led by musical director Andrea Rhodes. I would never claim to be a singer, but I had great fun making my modest contribution to their renditions of Unchained Melody, Sweet Georgia Brown and that wonderful hymn Cwm Rhonda – better known as Bread of Heaven.

The choir performs regularly in aid of charity in local venues and around the region – including big arenas like the Sage in Gateshead and the City Hall in Newcastle. Their first public performance since March 2020 is tomorrow night at St Nicholas Church, West Tanfield, at 7.30pm.

Last week I also spent my first day working at the new Darlington Economic Campus with the new team now based there delivering on the Government’s promise to level up the UK.

I really enjoyed working at my desk with its fantastic views of the town and meeting the new staff who have been recruited locally along with some of my Treasury team who have relocated from London.

This week we launched the latest stage in our recruitment drive for the campus – really important roles to help us diversify the way the Government makes policy, broaden access to skills and talent and widen opportunities.

Between 200 and 300 Treasury roles will be created at the campus and four other Government departments will have staff based here.

I would urge as many local people as possible – from Darlington, North Yorkshire and the wider region – to apply now and join our growing team here. All the roles available now and in the future will be found on the civil service jobs website.