A uniquely Yorkshire experience

Rachel Marshall and Ema Broadhurst, of Huby, near York, have set up an online company 'Uniquely Local' to promote Yorkshire experiences in the countryside. Pictures by James Hardisty.
Rachel Marshall and Ema Broadhurst, of Huby, near York, have set up an online company 'Uniquely Local' to promote Yorkshire experiences in the countryside. Pictures by James Hardisty.
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Dancing with farmers dressed in sheepskin in the snow on the moors at midnight in the middle of winter; swimming with salmon in the Esk; and flying alongside red kites in Harewood with a Go-Pro camera affixed your forehead may not be possible, nor to your taste and nor are any of them for real – unless you know different – but if they were it’s a fair bet that an enterprising duo based in Huby near Easingwold would have them on their roster.

Gymnastic coach and former primary school teacher Ema Broadhurst and fellow mum and former web developer Rachel Marshall are Yorkshire born and bred ladies whose new business Uniquely Local is based upon promoting interesting, in some cases quirky, experiences available throughout the county. In just a year they have gone from an initial list of 20 to 86 and they show no sign of stopping.

Uniquely Local promotes Yorkshire experiences in the countryside via the internet.

Uniquely Local promotes Yorkshire experiences in the countryside via the internet.

“We spent one summer getting together with our little ones who weren’t at school and threw ideas around regarding possible ventures,” says Ema, “but our light bulb moment came when Rachel’s brother-in-law, who lives abroad, was looking to buy a voucher for some kind of experience day as a gift rather than sending toys. Like many other mums we’ve reached the stage where our children don’t need any more plastic in the house and we instantly saw the potential for something that would apply to buying experiences to give young ones a new adventure right through to providing days out for anyone of any age.”

While experience packages became in vogue a decade or so ago, offering everything from driving a Formula 3 car to flying in a hot air balloon and recording a song in a studio, notably with companies such as Red Letter Day, Ema and Rachel’s premise was to make their offering all about the White Rose county. What they found has opened their eyes and continues to inflame their desire to unearth even more treasures.

“There are so many uniquely different things on our doorstep. We have amazing experiences, such as star gazing, fossil hunting on the coast, dinosaur footprint trails, all run by a chap on the North York Moors, Jacki Barlow’s treks with alpacas and then far more relaxed but equally unique days, half days or whatever length of time you choose visiting vineyards, learning about cheese making near Reeth, chocolate making in Scarborough and very different forms of art somewhere down a very long dale in the middle of nowhere. That’s just a few of what we offer.”

“Before we started I never even knew there were vineyards in Yorkshire. This has been quite a journey and I’m guessing we’ve only scratched the surface of what there is available. We have a lot of pride in our county and we’d love to be the go-to for anyone’s day out in Yorkshire.

“What we look for in every business that we promote through Uniquely Local is that those delivering the experience are passionate about what they do and are prepared to share their dreams and passion with others. We want them to offer something they’ve never experienced before and that when people walk away they cannot help but say great things about about the person, the experience and the surroundings. Fantastic people like Simon Lacey and Jacki Barlow are exactly who we are looking for all the time. Coming up with this business has also made us appreciate Yorkshire even more and it’s not just the people and experiences we’ve found that has been enlightening and inspirational, we’ve both also added to our appreciation of how great this county is and how it offers such variety. Every time we are in Swaledale it is just stunning no matter what time of the year.”

Rachel’s background in web development has helped and Uniquely Local’s business mainly comes from online sales.

Born in Saltburn by the Sea, Rachel graduated in Media Studies at Sheffield Hallam where she met husband Chris.

“I worked with web developers in Leeds at the time the internet was just becoming a major part of people’s lives, before moving to York and then Huby. Online advertising is where most of our work comes from using Google advertising. We back that up with all of the social media that you need to do these days using Twitter and Facebook. Ema handles all of that side.”

Ema, with one m because she is half-Slovak, specialised in teaching PE and English literacy. She taught at Gateways School in Harewood and at Yarm and is married to promotional manager Mike.

“While most of our business comes online we have also promoted ourselves elsewhere and in the lead up to Christmas we will be at York racecourse for the Living North event, plus a wedding fair and a couple of other venues. Last year we sold hundreds of experiences from October to December.

“We’ve found we’re an ideal go-to website for a festive present no matter whether it’s for young or the not so young. Current favourites are vineyard tours and gin punch with afternoon tea. They may not be exactly unique but they are very popular.”