A North York Moors man has been shortlisted for a top tourism award because of his passion for, and dedication to making cycling in Dalby Forest more accessible for all.
Rob Brown, who is co-director of the not-for-profit Community Interest Company Dalby Forest Cycle Hub, has been nominated as one of 10 finalists across the country in the Tourism Superstar 2024 awards run by VisitEngland.
At the heart of Rob’s story is the pivotal role he has played in helping transform many people’s lives, particularly enabling those living with greater challenges to have more independence. This has included his involvement in the award-winning North York Moors Accessibility Project led by VisitEngland to improve information, customer service and facilities for people with accessibility requirements, such as those with mobility or sensory impairments, so they too can enjoy the National Park’s landscapes.
Through his ‘Learn to Ride in 90 minutes’ programme aimed at children, together with other courses for all ages, Rob has not just taught cycling skills but also instilled confidence for those who may never have experienced being on a bike before, as well as opened people’s eyes to the therapeutic benefits of being outdoors.
Crucially, he has also helped people with additional needs to experience the joy that comes from cycling in the forest, engaging with numerous specialist schools and disability groups, and working hard to understand the challenges that individuals face before finding the best adaptive bike for them to hire from the Cycle Hub.
Catriona McLees, Head of Marketing and Communications at the North York Moors National Park comments: “Rob is definitely a superstar as his story is about far more than just being a passionate cycling advocate. He shows how listening to others, coming up with solutions and providing a good community spirit can totally transform how much people think they can achieve and what might be possible.
“For example, he’s helped people who have had a life changing accident or illness realise it is still possible to cycle with their family using an adaptive bike; opened children’s eyes to the joy of riding unaided for the first time; and enabled strong, lasting bonds of friendship to be formed when youngsters help each other while out cycling.
“Essentially he’s created a haven of inclusivity within Dalby Forest, enabling people to enjoy having greater freedom and independence in a beautiful woodland setting and providing a gold-star template for others to follow when it comes to making tourism more accessible.”
Petra Young, Interim Head of Recreation at Forestry England Yorkshire adds: “Since starting to work with our partners at Dalby Forest Cycle Hub, it’s been clear that Rob embodies what it means to really champion a great cause.
“Accessible cycling isn’t just about paths and trails; it’s a gateway to empowerment and inclusivity. Dalby Forest is about more than stunning landscapes; it’s about creating an environment where everyone, regardless of ability, can experience a thrilling ride.
“Since the beginning, Rob has created a warm, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere to cycling in Dalby. It’s clear to see that this sits close to Rob’s heart, and his unwavering passion and determination to remove barriers is an inspiration to us all.
“The Forestry England staff based in Dalby Forest all love working with Rob to develop exciting, accessible cycling activities and we’re thrilled to hear that Rob is being rightly acknowledged for his incredible work.”
The public will be able to vote for their favourite superstar on VisitEngland’s website from mid-February when the competition officially opens. https://www.visitbritain.org/working-us/visitenglands-tourism-superstar-award