Fundraising challenge for former head

Former primary headteacher Deborah North on the terrain hopper she will use for the coast challenge in April.
Former primary headteacher Deborah North on the terrain hopper she will use for the coast challenge in April.

A former headteacher is getting her life back on track after she became disabled and is now busy raising funds to ensure those in wheelchairs can enjoy the open countryside the same as able bodied walkers.

Deborah North from Scamblesby was diagnosed with spinal degeneration four years ago and had to retire early from her job at Kidgate Primary School in Louth in 2011 because of it.

A period of grieving the loss of a job she loved followed until she decided to overcome her disability, reconnect with her love of the outdoors, and help other people in the same situation. She set about creating the accessthedales campaign to raise awareness about the lack of wheelchair access in the countryside for disabled people. Trips with her husband in the car didn’t enable her to enjoy the sensory atmosphere of the countryside so she began to investigate all terrain wheelchairs and realised that where there was a will there was way and it was something she wanted to share with other people in the same position.

She said: “I soon discovered that I could once again enjoy one of my favourite pastime, and so the fundraising began. I managed to raise £7,000 to buy the National Trust a Tramper, which they hire out for £5 per day at Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales. Disabled visitors like myself, can now enjoy the beautiful scenery and reach places that would otherwise be inaccessible.”

Deborah, however, now has a bigger challenge. She is currently raising funds at her Just Giving page North1/ for a Terrain Hopper for the Calvert Trust Kielder disabled charity and she hopes sponsors will also come forward to help her with the use of a large vehicle, which can take four people and the all terrain wheelchair, which she needs when she takes on the Wainwright’s Coast to Coast challenge from St Bees to Robin Hoods Bay, which will be her next big fundraising event.

She said: “I need to raise £11,000 and have other events and activities planned too including a Spring Ball and Yorkshire Evening at Tan Hill, the highest pub in the British Isles.

“Terrain Hopper are kindly providing me with a Hopper for the challenge, which will take me two weeks, and ‘where2walk’ are supporting me with route planning. I already have a back-up team in place but I need a large enough vehicle to transport them and the equipment I need.”