Thanks to everyone who came along to join in our 20th anniversary celebrations: a pie n pea extravaganza with a side serving of magic, morris dancing, a drum clinic and a live band. Here’s some of our photos from the evening, we’d love to see your photos too – you can upload them to our Facebook fan page where you’ll find a very special video.
Tag → harrogate
Tuesday 27th July saw the conservation group head out to Pateley Bridge in North Yorkshire to tackle some unruly undergrowth in the yard of St Cuthbert’s church. Weaving between ancient gravestones, our team raked up cut grass and lopped overhanging low branches to help make the church yard easier to maintain.
The idea is that by raking up old grass, we remove it before it rots and provides nutrients for even more weeds and grass, thereby keeping the undergrowth in check. Important little jobs like this help keep community spaces well-maintained and the countryside accessible.
Our journey began with an unidentified moth found by David in the basement of Open Country HQ at the Harrogate Volunteer Centre. The moth was about an inch long, brown, furry and had long wings. We tried to work out exactly what species of moth it was, but all was made clear when Open Country member Ross concluded it was a new form of “moth fruit bat.”
We managed to get the church yard clean and tidy in time for lunch, shortly before rain clouds descended over Nidderdale, threatening to give us all a good soaking. It takes more than looming weather to deter our conservation work though, in fact Open Country member Charlotte was an example to us all – heaving fork-loads of grass despite recent illness. Charlotte has been coming out with Open Country since she was 16 years old.
After lunch we headed up to Wath to tackle some pesky Himalayan Balsam, a shallow rooted weed which threatens native plant species through aggressive seed spreading. Sometimes called ‘balsam bashing’ we singled out the invasive plant and pulled it out by the roots, which means other native plants have a better chance of success.
While in Wath we took in a few sights, including a Buzzard flying overhead (an actual Buzzard this time, rather than Ross ’spotting’ it) and an old Methodist chapel reputed to be one of the smallest in England with five unequal sides. We weren’t too far away from the old Nidd Valley Light Railway either, so we took a look at the old track bed and a house which used to be a station on the line.
On the return journey back to Harrogate, we took the scenic route over the dales via Skipton Road and passed by Greenhow Hill near a conservation project that Open Country helped lend a hand with some time ago. The Rotary Club of Harrogate have a ‘carbon offsetting’ scheme which means travellers can offset emissions from the aircraft they travel on by planting trees on the dales. Open Country helped plant some of these carbon-offset trees so we took a drive past to check on their progress. We felt proud to see some of the saplings now poking their leaves above the top of their protective planter tubes.
It was a busy day for the Tuesday conservation team, peppered with some interesting sights for our members to enjoy, along with some productive activities to strengthen our ongoing mission to help people with disabilities to access the countryside.
Monday saw a flotilla of 20 tandems take to the road to mark Open Country’s 20th anniversary: a ‘wheel spectacle’ for any pedestrian or motorist in the North Yorkshire area.
We started out at Wetherby for a 20 mile cycle trip with a tactical pub stop at Tockwith. The outing was unique as it included all of our volunteers and service users from our Wetherby, Harrogate and Ripon tandem clubs. Even more unique, it saw Sam, Paul and David, the three pillars of Open Country all out of the office at once, rather than taking it in turns to drink tea at their desks.
The evening was a real team effort and brought our diverse community together to celebrate twenty years of our unique charity and its ongoing mission to help people with disabilities to access the countryside.
You can see a full set of photographs from the event in our Facebook photo album including a particularly flattering photo of Open Country volunteer Barrie.
We’re enormously grateful to our friends at Church Avenue house in Harrogate for raising over £600 to support Open Country’s mission to help people with disabilities to access the countryside. Church Avenue is a care home that offers supported living, helping people with disabilities live as independently as possible.
The Church Avenue team braved the full fifteen miles of the annual Nidderdale walk, hiking for over seven hours as a team of nine, which included: Alasdair, Mark, Paul, Dan Vincent, Ian, Emma and Sue. Their donation was made up of contributions from individuals, friends, families, companies and supporters like the Harrow Pub on Knaresborough Road.
Roughly seven miles into the walk, the team was doing well but some members had begun to lag a little, suffering from aching feet and the prospect of over half the full distance still to go. Sue had a trick up her sleeve though to squeeze a few more miles out:
“We just pretended there wasn’t long left, telling ourselves ‘we’re nearly there’ even though we knew we weren’t.”
And some extremely high stiles didn’t help things, especially for members of Church Avenue house who are visually impaired: one member had to overcome a mountain of a stile, almost falling off had Ian not been on hand to help catch him.
Why did Church Avenue house choose to donate to Open Country?
“Our boys love going out on the tandem rides Open Country run and we knew how hard it was to maintain the bikes … punctures and things.”
Said Sue at Church Avenue:
“Giving money to a bigger charity means the help would go elsewhere, it wouldn’t stay locally where it’s needed. You tend to work harder if you know where it’s going, you know … you see it.”
Are you raising money for charity?
If you’re taking sponsorship for a fund-raising event this year: whether it’s an extraordinary feat, a fun run, a race like the Great North Run, a 10K or a marathon think of Open Country. Your money won’t go into a black hole to be spent in a different part of the country.
We’re a small local charity so you can see your donations working directly in the local community of North Yorkshire: helping people with disabilities to access the countryside. We’ll even take you out with us so you can see how your fund raising has helped, by coming along as a volunteer.
We need your help to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. You should contact us or leave a comment below.