A special event to highlight and celebrate the work of the region s dedicated volunteers has taken place in Barnstaple. Voluntary organisations from across North Devon attended a meeting entitled A Strong Voluntary Sector: a Strong Community, organised

A special event to highlight and celebrate the work of the region's dedicated volunteers has taken place in Barnstaple.

Voluntary organisations from across North Devon attended a meeting entitled "A Strong Voluntary Sector: a Strong Community," organised by North Devon Council and North Devon Voluntary Services.

In attendance were representatives from countless unpaid and not-for-profit groups, from pre-schools, In Bloom committees and poverty action and youth groups whose efforts make a huge difference to many local people.

The event also offered them information on the financial and practical support provided by North Devon Council to the voluntary and community sector.

Two of the groups attending received cheques after applying for funding through the North Devon Council Community Councillor Grant scheme.

Bishops Tawton Pre-school (formerly the play group) received grants of more than £400 from its local ward members, Councillors David Butt and David Luggar.

On top of that it achieved grant funding from Devon County Council and Bishops Parish Council, together with advice and support from North Devon Council's funding officer provided advice and support. As a result the group has successfully secured more than £5,000 in grants.

The money allowed it to move on from a looming threat of closure to relaunching itself as a pre-school, offering extended hours, extra sessions, a lunch club, integration into Bishops Tawton Primary School, a toddler group, a new website, much needed new equipment and gardening facilities.

"Without this funding the play group would not have survived, which would have been detrimental to the community and surrounding areas," said group chairman Julie Tramine.

"We'd like to say a big thank you to all who helped our play group flourish into a thriving pre-school. We are now able to look forward to a more positive future."

Ilfracombe in Bloom also received grants totalling £3,000, donated Ilfracombe district councillors Paul Crabb, Paul Yabsley, Mike Edmunds, Bob Darell and Colin Wright.

Councillor Dick Jones, Lead Member for Community and Leisure, said: "Local voluntary and community groups make a huge difference to North Devon's communities.

"The council recognises this and is keen to support their work. Community Councillor Grants are one way we can show our support at a local level as they contribute to the efforts and vibrancy of our communities. There are still grants available, so please contact the Community and Leisure Services Team for more information."

North Devon Council can offer help and advice to voluntary organisation or groups to find funding. For more information contact funding officer Caroline Leaver on (01271) 388264 or email caroline.leaver@northdevon.gov.uk on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.