LIVING through the pain caused by dementia inspired the development of accessible Dales holiday cottages that have won two prestigious awards.

Diane Howarth, the director of Cottage in the Dales, is enjoying a double celebration after winning The Cateys Accessibility Award 2020 and receiving a gold accolade in the Yorkshire White Rose Awards.

Diane, who operates three holiday cottages in Wensleydale, has dedicated the awards to the memory of her mum, Norma Metcalfe of Hartlepool, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia after a stroke.

Finding it hard to communicate with Norma who "appeared to be disappearing before your very eyes", Diane turned to the Dementia Friends education resources from the Alzheimer's Society which helped her cope with the changing, increasingly difficult and emotionally-charged situations.

Sadly, Norma died last year, but one positive that came out of such a traumatic time was Diane's focus on ensuring that her holiday cottages became as accessible and dementia-friendly as possible, meaning that families going through similar experiences can still enjoy a holiday and know their loved one will be well catered for.

Dedicating both awards to Norma, Diane said: “The happiness we can bring to others with this dementia-friendly accommodation is such a fitting and loving dedication to the memory of her.

"As she would say, God bless.”

Congratulating Diane's work, Helen Dolphin, head judge of the national Cateys awards, said: "Cottage in the Dales has well and truly put the needs of disabled people at the heart of their business, offering a five-star service.

"They have demonstrated that looking after disabled guests is great for business and we hope others take note of what they have achieved.”

Diane is thrilled with the recognition and said: “We’re astounded at winning both of these awards for accessibility and inclusive tourism.

"The Cateys is such a prestigious national award and we were David amongst the Goliaths.

"Accessibility can be delivered in different ways by all businesses.

"We pride ourselves on delivering a luxury experience that caters for all guests, regardless of their age, physical or mental ability.

“Providing accessible accommodation that doesn’t appear clinical, has been one of the best business decisions ever.

"We extended our reach to physically disabled and elderly guests with the launch of The Dairy (holiday cottage), and won bronze at the 2019 White Rose Awards.

"Through help from organisations such as Access for All UK and Motionspot, The Dairy is now both dementia-friendly and autism-friendly.

"So winning gold in the 2020 White Rose Awards is the icing on the cake.

"We’re happy to share our experience with other accommodation providers entering this market too.”