Otley Action for Older People have been able to purchase a bespoke wheelchair accessible minibus thanks to a funding boost from the Freemasons.

Up to 50 older people and people with disabilities from Otley and surrounding districts will now be able to enjoy social trips and days out each week thanks in part to a grant from West Riding Freemasons.

West Riding Masonic Charities Ltd awarded Otley Action for Older People (OAOP) a grant of £15,000 from their Community Fund towards the minibus which is costing almost £90,000.

OAOP had to go into fund-raising mode in 2022 because their much-loved Volkswagen vehicle that had served the charity for the last 12 years fell victim to wear and decay. But the new vehicle will give far more people access because it is fitted with a specially adapted lift for wheelchairs.

The grant application was made on behalf of the community-based organisation by the Otley-based Royal Wharfedale Lodge.

Over the past two years the charity has been fundraising vigorously to raise funds for a new minibus finally reaching their target this year.

The charity had raised over £70,000 before the Freemasons stepped in to clinch the deal.

Otley Action for Older People would like to acknowledge and thank all those that have contributed. There have been many small and large donations from both groups and individuals. Grants were also received from The Big Lottery Fund, The Clothworkers Foundation, Bernard Sunley Foundation and the Mangoletsi Trust. Without the support of all, this fantastic achievement wouldn’t have been possible.

Jim Taylor from Otley Action for Older People is clearly happy with the new mini-bus and looking forward to some great days out this summer

Project Manager Sue Trainor said: “We’re grateful to everyone that contributed. The new minibus will give older people with disabilities who can’t normally go out the opportunity to take part in social events organised by Otley Action for Older People.

“The minibus will be popular with our members as it is adapted to accommodate wheelchair users and those with mobility problems. aids.

Duncan Kilbride, chairman of West Riding Masonic Charities Ltd., said: “We’re very pleased to assist charities such as OAOP because they do such important work within the Otley community.

“West Riding Masonic Charities Ltd., is the charitable organisation for Freemasons throughout the West Riding and it is very satisfying to all our members that we are able to help such amazing projects.”

Trevor Backhouse on behalf of the Royal Wharfedale Lodge, added: “OAOP are so important to the older people of our community, and we’re very pleased we could help them.”