Debbie North is one of those speakers, who not only does not disappoint, she gives more than you expect. Her story is inspiring anyway, but when she presents it with her inimitable sense of humour and direct style it is truly a joy and a delight to listen to her. She is an animated speaker who brings a story of determination to life with photos and anecdotes. The picture Debbie paints is one of resilience with the ability to overcome any obstacle that would stop her returning to her joy of walking with her husband.

The important work that Debbie has done for obtaining greater wheelchair access to the country side is an achievement in itself, but her story of coming back from a debilitating illness and making a new life for herself is even more profound and a delight to hear.

Michael Astrop, Speaker Finder, Todmorden U3A February 2021.

Debbie and I share a passion for outdoor adventures, nature and the sheer joy of being in the open air. Through her, I have become more aware of the challenges surrounding accessibility for all encountered daily in travel, urban environs and in the countryside as well as the potential solutions. She shares her experience and valuable insights with honesty and generousity of spirit allied to good humour and integrity.

 

John Traynor, FRGS

Deputy Editor - Outdoor i 

Editor - Profile Products @ Outdoor i

Traynor on the Trail

Outdoor Industries Association - Professional Member

Adventure Travel Trade Association - Professional Member

“We’re so proud and honoured to have Debbie, the face of AccessTOG trailblazing the way by creating routes for wheelchair users. It is something which is incredibly important to us, and together we aim to inspire thousands of other people who are in situations such as Debbie’s to use this resource to get outdoors and explore. AccessTOG aims to make the inaccessible, accessible for everyone.”

The Outdoor Guide

Debbie has been an absolute delight to work with on my dissertation research around exclusionary barriers of access to the outdoors for those with disabilities. Her thoughts, knowledge and experience has been insightful, informative for my report but also truly inspiring and has made me consider outdoor disability access in a whole new way! Debbie you are such a lovely person, and I am very grateful for your support and help with my project!

 

Kiera Benzie 

Sociology Undergraduate at Lancaster University

Over the last few years I've had the pleasure of working with Debbie as part of my role with Countryside Mobility. It's been great to collaborate with her in our shared passion of making the countryside more accessible. I've been particularly impressed by her enthusiasm, energy and knowledge gained from a wealth of experience of different examples of accessible tourism and leisure. Her passion and positivity is infectious enabling people to see the opportunities rather than focussing on the challenges. She is a natural communicator and quick to recognise the benefit of teaming up with others to achieve her vision of an accessible countryside. I'd have no hesitation in recommending her work.

Neil Warren

Countryside Mobility

"It was brilliant to work with Debbie on improving accessibility for an outdoors pilot I'm working on. Debbie is so insightful and knowledgeable in this area. She also encouraged me to reflect more holistically on barriers to spending time outdoors, as well as practical ways to adapt and in doing so support everyone in the group to get the most out of the experience. On a personal level, it was lovely to get to meet with Debbie who is incredibly personable, passionate and engaging. The way Debbie speaks about nature and feeling the elements on your face makes you want to immediately get outside and in nature, and to ensure that everyone who wants to gets that same opportunity."  

 

K. Shanks 

PhD Student 

School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex

With the opening of more stretches of the new England Coast Path National Trail in Cumbria and beyond, and recent news of a potential upgrade of the Wainwright Coast to Coast route to a National Trail, it is vital that we make these as accessible as possible. As guest speaker at an event celebrating a stretch where some - but not all – of the route is accessible to all, Debbie’s contribution was a very welcome kick up the backside not only to Natural England Cumbria but to our many partners in attendance, to keep improving what we do and appreciate how important access is to everybody. Debbie’s presentation was a roaring success. We went through all the emotions as she took us on a hilarious and poignant journey with her, both personal and geographical. Particularly relevant and timely were a recounting of her Coast to Coast journeys, not least as the England Coast Path event was held in St Bees where the C2C starts, and the time spent illustrating some of the main access challenges which mobility scooter users face. Attendees and Natural England colleagues have commented on how enjoyable the day was and how much they got from the guest speakers, and it has raised all of our awarenesses on what we can (and I sincerely hope will) do better in future. Thank you, Debbie!

Ange Harker 

Lead Adviser

North West Coastal Access Delivery

Cumbria Area team

Natural England