New film highlights benefits of improved access to Yorkshire Dales

All-terrain wheelchairs on Yorkshire Dales.

Access the Dales, a charity started by a disability campaigner to improve access to the national park, has released a short film about its work.

The film features commentary from service users on how the charity has changed their lives.

It is hoped the film will help more people benefit from their campaign to make sure nobody is left without the opportunity to access activities in the Yorkshire Dales.

Debbie North, who had enjoyed rambling in the Yorkshire Dales her whole life, discovered this for herself after being diagnosed with a degenerative spine condition. Debbie sourced an all-terrain wheelchair that allowed her to get back out exploring, along with her husband, Andy.

Sadly, Andy later passed away after a short battle with cancer, but it had been his wish to raise money for an all-terrain wheelchair for children, having discovered that other people were still struggling to access the equipment they needed, particularly children.

Not only did Debbie raise the funds for a children’s all-terrain wheelchair, but she has gone on to build a network providing a whole fleet of all-terrain wheelchairs, free to borrow from ten hubs across the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland.

Speaking in the film, service user, David described the difference the charity made to him.

“I used to be able to walk the fell, and then 25 years ago I had a heart attack and have been more and more limited in what I can do. I was introduced to the terrain hopper, I’ve done some marvellous rambles, been out on the fells for six hours instead of driving around them.

“It has made a tremendous difference. If it wasn’t for Access the Dales I would be limited to following roads, rarely able to get above things and look down, look along a big valley, across a lake to the mountains on the far side.”

The film was produced by Big Picture Charity Films – a charity that specialises in helping other charities to tell powerful stories.

It was funded by the Matthew Good Foundation’s Amplify Charity Films programme, which offers funding and support for small non-profits who are making a high impact in their communities, but require help with funding or expertise in order to invest in communications campaigns.

Debbie, who was recently awarded a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister for her work, described how rewarding it is to be able to help.

“It is about creating a countryside for everyone. It’s not just the person with the disabilities, it’s their family and their friends.

“Seeing people enjoying the Dales puts a big smile on my face. I’ve witnessed tears of joy, and I don’t think I will ever get used to seeing people enjoying themselves so much, as they do when they can access the wheelchairs to get out into the Dales.”

All-terrain wheelchairs can be reserved for use on the charity’s website,