Yorkshire Dales hotel adopts crowdfunding scheme to survive

The owners of Grassington House in the Yorkshire Dales have set up a ‘pay it forward’ scheme to protect the jobs of its 20 strong staff long term as the latest in a string of enterprising efforts in the community during lockdown.

John and Sue Rudden adopted the COVID19 initiative established by the online fundraising platform Crowdfunder. They have set up a fundraising page which allows customers of their hotel and restaurant to pledge funds now which can then be redeemed in the future for meals or accommodation. Each pledge is rewarded with 20% added value when redeemed.

The loyal regular Grassington House customer base has responded generously to the scheme, but with some way to go to the target, the Ruddens hope that more support can be generated from the wider community to secure the future of the business which is in its 12th year.

Very early on in the current crisis the Ruddens became aware that they were among those businesses whose eligibility criteria fell between government aid schemes so that, while staff could be furloughed, their own income and the future viability of the business was not protected. There was no local council grant and the bank declined to provide support.


When they first found themselves staring into the abyss of lockdown, the Ruddens established themselves as champions of their local community. It made perfect sense to John, as a master chef, to make sure that none of their produce went to waste. As the villagers, many of whom are elderly, were being advised to stay indoors and avoid travelling to supermarkets, John and Sue transformed the terrace of Grassington House into a pop-up outdoor shop, called Ruddens Rations.

With the terrace railings providing a natural social distancing barrier, they offered seven types of flour, yeast and oil for villagers to take away in their own containers, along with meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and dairy produce. A delivery service was established for the elderly and self-isolating.

Helping to keep their restaurant suppliers in business while transforming their own lives from hotel award recipients one week to taking up the mantle of market stall traders the next, John and Sue have since worked tirelessly outside 6 days a week through lockdown in sun, wind and rain. They have grown a devoted following, winning the hearts of the villagers for providing a life-line, from the grateful elderly for their home deliveries to the children who love the free fruit they are given, bringing pictures of cards and thanks for ‘Super Suey the Fruit Lady’.

As it became clear that COVID19 was not going away anytime soon, John and Sue continued to evolve the business to cater for their customers’ new needs; providing haute cuisine take-away for people to enjoy a gastronomic dining experience at home in lockdown.

John explained “We’ve done everything we can to support the food lovers in our community and it’s heart-warming that our crowdfunding ‘pay it forward’ appeal has enabled people to show their appreciation by helping us to survive this difficult time.”