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Who are we?

Our committee are elected by the society's membership.


Roderick Beardshall

"I have lived in Harrogate for over 15 years and even though I have had environmental concerns most of my life I was probably guilty of taking the beauty of its surroudings for granted. Two interconnecting events shook my complacency. Firstly I became a father for the first time in 2013 which put the future into sharp focus. Secondly, in early 2017 I became aware of the threat of a road being built in the green space between Harrogate and Knaresborough, thanks to a display at Woodfield library, which I was attending with my daughter for our regular Tuesday morning story and craft session. That led me to get involved in the campaign to halt the road and this in turn introduced me to Zero Carbon Harrogate where I now chair their transport working group. The idea of Long Lands Common ticks so many boxes as the type of project which needs to be supported and replicated if we are to build a positive future.


Trish Sanders

I have lived down Bilton all of my life, growing up, Bilton fields from Starbeck to Nidd, were my playground, I walked my dogs, rode my horses, and escaped! With my children I went on mud hunts, picnics, wildlife spotting  adventures, climbing trees, and paddling up streams, finding nature's treasures. Now my grandchildren are able to enjoy this special place on their doorstep, and I am hopeful that. having helped defeat the relief road, I can now move forward and contribute to this exciting new challenge.


Rick Brewis

Is a local 3rd generation landowner within the Nidd Gorge catchment area, woodland owner & business partner, and was a founding member committee member of Nidd Gorge Community Action Group & HALT.
Rick says:

"I am dedicated to preserving local habitats for a variety of wildlife & helping local communities to be involved in education in the countryside by teaching bushcraft & other activities on my land.
I have planted over 30,000 trees on my land & worked for 15 years at the Tees Forest (Community Forest) as Farming, Woodland & Biodiversity Officer. My role there was to advise farmers & landowners on how to integrate modern farming techniques whilst at the same time improving & creating wildlife habitats on their land. I was instrumental here in planting over 3million trees."

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Geoff Foxall

Discusses his involvement:

"I was born in Harrogate and have appreciated its surrounding environment all my life. As Secretary of Starbeck Residents Association, I am keen to involve local groups and individuals in the project particularly Starbeck school and the specialist colleges in Starbeck.

I have been a member of Nidd Gorge Community Action since its inception. As a councillor for Bilton in the 1980's and 90's, I helped to successfully prevent the development of a Northern Ring Road which would have decimated the Nidd Gorge and green belt between Harrogate and Knaresborough."


Ian Fraser

Is a craftsman woodworker, originally from Canada. He has lived in Harrogate since 1998. His voluntary work with Christian Aid led him to learning much more about climate change, as it is the developing world that is far more vulnerable to its effects, and has done the least to bring it about.

After a well received Christian Aid event in December 2015 about climate change, at the time of COP21, the Paris climate change agreement, he and some other like minded people set up Zero Carbon Harrogate, a climate breakdown activist group ( Zero Carbon Harrogate) ; Ian is its natural climate solutions coordinator and focuses on actions that help our part of the biosphere heal itself.

He feels that the creation of a community woodland presents a really exciting opportunity to help along that healing. Creating this woodland will bring many benefits to Harrogate and Knaresborough residents and visitors: habitats for wildlife, increasing biodiversity and making local ecosystems more resilient; improving air, soil and water quality; as the trees grow they will absorb atmospheric carbon; as their roots grow the soil will become more permeable, which will help slow the flow of water draining into rivers, a means of natural flood management; creating green spaces for recreation activities, improving health and well-being, and re-connecting people with nature.

John Jackson

In my 60’s now I am enjoying having more time to appreciate the countryside around me. I was born in Harrogate and have lived in Harrogate most of my life. I have recently retired having worked outdoors most of my life as a self-employed fencing contractor. 
From early years I was bought up to respect nature and nurture it. My Granddad was tenant farmer at Burton Leonard and as children much of our free time was spent outdoors on the farm.

I like to encourage the younger generation to be involved with the natural world around them doing this in my role of scout leader with 20th Harrogate Scouts and in helping to maintain the districts wooded campsite near Thornthwaite. On the theme of encouraging people to explore the outdoors, my first job was as deputy warden at the now closed Stainforth youth hostel near Settle.
I have lived in the Bilton area for over 15 years and was involved at the initiation of the protest against the relief road.

I have been a Scout Leader at 20th Harrogate Scouts for over 20years and have been involved in running some large events including managing events. As well as being a leader at 20th I am Quartermaster looking after tents and all other equipment. I am also a trustee for the group.

Recreationally I love to walk in the uplands of the U.K. especially Scotland and of course walking in Yorkshire.
As a board member I am keen to get involved with practical projects on the site where my outdoor and DIY skills will be useful.

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Chris Kitson

53, has lived in Harrogate all his life, attending New Park County Primary School and Harrogate Granby High School. He is now a teacher, specialising in alternative education for secondary-age students.
Through his work, teaching practical conservation work in Nidd Gorge - in partnership with Bilton Conservation Group and Harrogate Council - he was compelled to campaign against the proposed relief road in order to protect the gorge, greenway and green belt.
As a founder member of Nidd Gorge Community Action, Chris assumed the role of Chair in February 2017 and took a lead in the high-profile campaign to ‘Save Nidd Gorge and the Nidderdale Greenway’.
As Chair, in 2019, he helped to initiate the Harrogate & Knaresborough Alliance for Less Traffic (HALT) and, as Volunteer Coordinator for HALT, helped to organise the successful, community-driven publicity campaign against the road. Now that the road idea has been dropped, ‘at this time’, following its overwhelming rejection by the community, Chris is keen to build on the momentum of the campaign and do more to protect the Harrogate & Knaresborough greenbelt for generations to come.

He sees a community-owned woodland at Long Lands Common as a natural follow-on project for Nidd Gorge Community Action. One that will help to preserve the greenbelt, improve bio-diversity and empower the people of Harrogate & Knaresborough to take more control of its green spaces.

Chris is the Secretary of Long Lands Common.

Richard Lord


"Enthusiasm was my initial feeling reading a flyer posted on the Nidderdale Greenway about Longlands Common. “I’d love a nature reserve so close to home, it’ll save me getting in the car.” What a great community idea & it might scupper proposals for a northern bypass through Nidd Gorge. I bought some shares soon after."

"Realising the idea was likely to happen I thought I want to make sure I can access the site in my wheelchair & I’m sure I won’t be the only one. So I started taking photos of nature places I like to visit & emailed the organisers my photos of gates, paths, even an accessible compost toilet that I found made good access without being too environmentally obtrusive. I met them on a couple of occasions too, to discuss ideas for making an accessible entrance from the Greenway. When asked to join the board at the 1st AGM in July, I was chuffed they’d valued my input & thought it’d give me a focus having lost my very part time job because of the pandemic."


Ben Skinner

Ben has been a Harrogate resident since 2012. A keen cyclist and local business owner, he became involved with the Nidd Gorge Community Action group in order to protect Harrogate's green spaces and campaign against the route chosen for the proposed "relief road" through the Nidd Gorge area. He provides IT and other digital skills for the team. Plus, if you've seen a drone flying over the Nidderdale Greenway and/or crashing repeatedly, it may well have been Ben!

Ben is the Chair of Long Lands Common.


Barry Slaymaker

Grandparent, cyclist, dry-stone waller, hill-walker. Harrogate resident for nearly 50 years. Veteran campaigner against earlier road schemes. Metamorphosed from IT manager to environmental scientist following studies as a mature student. Ranger with Nidderdale AONB where I led & supported Tree Wardens, dry-stone wallers, conservation volunteers & ‘Friends of AONB’. Continue to volunteer with the walling group each week.

“Long Lands Common is a magnificent achievement and a big win for local conservation that has galvanised the community. I am delighted and privileged to be serving on the board to help take things forward at this formative stage”.

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Allan Smyth

Has been a resident of Harrogate for 33 years and is a local business owner.
Allan has supported Nidd Gorge Community Action as Treasurer and has donated office space, transport and Audio Visual equipment to assist in the campaign against the failed proposed northern relief road.
Allan is a regular user of Harrogate green spaces as a dog walker and a keen environmentalist and cyclist.
Allan has agreed to support the Long Lands Common project as a board member and Treasurer and hopes the project is successful as it will ensure the continuation of the green belt well in to the future for the residents of the Harrogate district.

Allan is Treasurer of Long Lands Common.


James Mckay

Is the manager of two ‘Centres for Doctoral Training’ (research centres) at the University of Leeds: Bioenergy; and Water and Waste Infrastructure and Services Engineered for Resilience (Water-WISER).
James is also an illustrator, and collaborates with scientists and the public to create visual art that communicates scientific ideas, for example reconstructions of extinct species and ancient or future environments.
James has led several projects including ‘Dreams of a Low Carbon Future’ illustrating life in the UK in a zero carbon future society, including a focus on re-wilding, which he feels passionate about.
As a resident of Knaresborough, James is dedicated to helping with efforts to preserve and improve the biodiversity of the area, essential for our survival in the face of climate change.

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