IT seems hard to believe that, in the 21st century, women have only now been allowed to serve on the historic Burnsall Feast Sports Committee.

Even though, for years, wives and girlfriends have helped at the annual event, preparing the course, running the stalls and generally offering assistance, they have, in the past, been unable to serve as full members of the organising committee.

But common sense has now prevailed, with the committee overturning rules as ancient as the event itself, which can trace its origins to pre-Elizabethan times.

It is not a moment too soon. But even then, there was one vote against the move.

It remains to be seen, however, whether any women will want to put their names forward to serve.

The committee has also agreed to award equal prize money to male and female competitors.

That is another thorny issue, which has received national coverage recently after tennis star Novak Djokovic suggested male players should earn more as they generated more income.

He was later forced to back down, saying he was for equality in sport and had huge respect for female players.

Equally, there is absolutely no reason why competitors in local sports should not receive equal prize money. After all, they pay the same entry fee and cover the same demanding courses. The rewards, however, are very different.

Last year, the winner of Burnsall's classic fell race – a man – received £85, while the first woman home got just £50. Critics will argue the overall winner could be a woman, but that hasn't happened since the event was introduced in the 1870s.

Sports organisers at Kilnsey Show have also seen the light, and have agreed to give equal prize money to sports winners after being contacted by former Dalesman Richard Huntrods, of Putney in London, who said he was shocked to learn men competed for a bigger cash reward.

It has taken long enough, but it's good to see both sexes are finally on an equal footing.