Members of Open Country at the entrance to Stonefall Park, Harrogate
Members of Open Country at the entrance to Stonefall Park, Harrogate

Harrogate disability charity presents Access awards to Yorkshire organisations

14 March 2024

Harrogate-based disability charity has presented two organisations with an esteemed Good Access Scheme award, highlighting their commitment to fostering accessible and welcoming natural spaces for everyone.

Open Country – a charity dedicated to championing countryside accessibility for individuals with disabilities in the county – presented the former Harrogate Borough Council, and Woodhouse Country House near Rotherham, with awards.

Harrogate Borough Council (now North Yorkshire County Council) received a discretionary award for its exceptional work in improving accessibility around Stonefall Park, in Harrogate.

The removal of seven ‘A’ barriers that previously hindered the disabled community from freely accessing pathways highlights the Council’s dedication to creating a more inclusive environment. Open Country felt this was a landmark move in removing so many of these barriers.

Previous awardees of the Good Access Scheme (GAS), include Yorkshire Water, Otley Town Council, RSPB Fairburn Ings, Rodley Nature Reserve and Sustrans.


Tom O’Donovan, former HBC Economy and transport officer receiving the Open Country Good Access Scheme Awardaward
Tom O’Donovan, former HBC Economy and transport officer receiving the Open Country Good Access Scheme Award



Open Country, which has hubs in Harrogate and Wakefield, is one of the leaders on countryside access issues in Yorkshire. Its Advisory Groups, composed of disabled members and volunteers with lived experiences of access challenges, play a crucial role in selecting recipients for the GAS award.


Chief Officer at Open Country, David Shaftoe said:

We congratulate the Council and thank them for their hard work in making important steps for improving access and enjoyment of the great outdoors for people with a disability.

Small changes can make an enormous difference to improving access for all. It is important to remember that any barrier – however well intentioned – will be a barrier to someone.

We would love to invite other Yorkshire organisations to put themselves forward for 2024’s awards, and we also welcome nominations for deserving projects from individuals and community groups.

Each nomination will help create awareness, engagement and, hopefully, provide some inspiration to others to create a more inclusive and accessible environment for everyone in Yorkshire.

Last year, Open Country hosted its inaugural Good Access Scheme winners conference, attended by representatives from previously award recipients. The event proved so successful, there are now plans to make it an annual event, with the next taking place in November, hosted by this year’s winners, Wentworth Woodhouse

With over 30 years of knowledge and experience, Open Country is pleased to give expert advice and support to organisations looking to improve accessibility to open spaces, through its Countryside Advice Service. This resource provides training, access audits and extensive advice covering rights of way and more.

For more information about Open Country and the Good Access Scheme, or to make a nomination for a 2024 GAS award, please visit




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