Leeds nature reserve recognised for its ‘access for all’ efforts

Open Country presents the GAS Award to RSPB St Aidan’s

A nature park in Leeds has been recognised for its efforts to welcome people with a disability.

RSPB St Aidan’s has been presented with the 2019 Good Access Scheme award from Yorkshire-based charity Open Country.

The Award celebrates the efforts of the park staff and volunteers in creating a fully accessible path for wheelchair users and people with a disability.

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The 120-metre path was built over the summer and offers six new level resting areas and two new benches.

The nature park, which is managed by the RSPB on behalf of Leeds City Council, also offers blue badge parking, accessible toilets and the use of mobility scooter to access the open space.

Nicole Walton, RSPB visitor experience assistant, said: “RSPB St Aidan’s is designed for both people and wildlife and is open for a wide range of activities from bird watching and dog walking to cycling, jogging and horse riding.”

Adding: “It is hugely important that we enable as many people as possible to access and enjoy the facility and we’re really delighted to be able to open up more of the park to people with mobility needs. The project has been kindly funded by HSBC, who also sent a team of volunteers to help our own reserve volunteers and staff build the path.”

This is the fifth year of Open Country’s Good Access Scheme awards, which recognises the best countryside ‘access for all’ project in Yorkshire.

RSPB St Aidan’s was chosen as this year’s winner by the charity’s Advisory Group, which is made up of member representatives from each of the activity groups.

David Shaftoe, chief officer of Open Country, said: “We see a lot of positive developments in accessibility across Yorkshire, but RSPB St Aidan’s stood out for going the extra mile to ensure its open space can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their ability.

“We’re delighted to present them with this award and hope that it inspires other outdoor sites to consider ways they can improve access for all visitors.”

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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