The whole team here at York House Leisure are wishing a very happy and well-deserved retirement to our coffee shop supervisor, Claire Batson.

Claire joined the Old Barn in 2016 and has played a vital role in helping us build its excellent reputation and place it firmly on the North Yorkshire coffee shop map.

A dab hand at baking, Claire made the most delicious cakes and treats for our customers. Her skills also extended to cooking, with she and her café team creating a delicious menu using locally-sourced ingredients. Claire also introduced a range of specials to the menu, including afternoon teas, Sunday lunches, cake boxes and a weekly three-course lunch for senior citizens.

Under Claire’s leadership, the Old Barn Coffee Shop has thrived. It has gained an excellent reputation among our holiday home owners, local residents and day visitors alike. Claire helped to make the café a welcoming environment which is popular with families and children. Dog owners also visit regularly after a walk as the warm welcome extends to dogs, too – there’s even doggy ice cream on the menu.

Award-winning café

coffee shop retirement of supervisor Claire

With its spacious layout and outdoor space, the coffee shop is a regular stop-off for motorbike and classic car groups, as well as cycling groups and clubs from across the area and even from as far as Leeds and Bradford. Claire was as delighted as the rest of us when the Swaledale Outdoor Cycling Club presented their Café of the Year award to the Old Barn in 2020.

As well as keeping our coffee shop customers well-fed, Claire also catered for a wide range of activities at our holiday parks on site – York House, Abbots Green and Monk Park. She made some fantastic birthday cakes for our holiday home owners over the years. Alongside this, she catered for large on-site events and celebrations such as the York House Oscars, the Queen’s Jubilee and the King’s Coronation.

For a number of years, Claire and her team provided the catering for the annual senior citizens’ Christmas dinner, hosted at the Old Barn Coffee Shop in partnership with the Bagby and Balk Village Society. Even during the pandemic, when the guests couldn’t gather together, Claire and the coffee shop staff made special lunches that were boxed up and delivered in the community by members of the society.


Claire has also been integral in nurturing and developing the younger members of the café team. A great example of this is Izzy, who has herself become an invaluable part of the Old Barn as well as York House Holiday Park. Izzy joined us five years ago at the age of 13, and is now cooking and baking delicious food and cakes for our valued customers, as well as helping out in other areas of the holiday park.

coffee shop retirement of supervisor Claire

One of the highlights of Claire’s time at the Old Barn came in 2019, when she and her team were named winners at the Flavours of Herriot Country Awards, a highly-regarded annual celebration of Yorkshire’s food and drink champions. Not only did they win the Customer Service Team of the Year award, but they were shortlisted in a further two categories: Tearoom of the Year, and Baked Product of the Year for Claire’s homemade lemon and blueberry scones and lemon drizzle cake.

Retirement gifts

It was lovely to see Claire last week for a final farewell as she popped in to catch up with some of our regular customers and her colleagues. Izzy, who seems to have taken Claire’s mantle as baker-in-chief, made a lovely cake which was shared with everyone. Claire was presented with a wealth of cards, flowers, champagne and vouchers from both our team and our generous holiday homeowners who were regulars at the café. She was absolutely delighted and overwhelmed, so thank you to everyone who contributed to her retirement gifts.

Claire has many adventures planned for her retirement, such as visiting France. She has already been to Greece and toured Scotland, including a flight and landing on Loch Lomond.

Company directors Phil and Tim Brierley said: “Everyone at York House Leisure will miss Claire immensely, as will the many happy customers of the Old Barn Coffee Shop.

“Claire has been such a big part of the café that it will feel strange without her, but we wish her the happiest of retirements and a great many adventures ahead.”