A charity in law
The Dartmoor Preservation Association operates as a charity in law. Members of the Board of Trustees have four key roles to play in contributing to the decision-making of the Association:
- to determine the Association’s policies, and approve and monitor programmes to implement those policies including financial affairs;
- to participate in the development of policy direction, strategic thinking and innovation within the Association;
- to represent the Association, individually and corporately;
- to work as a volunteer on the Board of Trustees to help achieve the objectives of the Association; also volunteer to carry out particular tasks on behalf of the Trustees (such as serving on a working group).
The Trustees and Officers of the Association :
- act in accordance with the Association’s constitution and are accountable to the members.
- always represent the Association and its mission in a positive and professional manner in all entities and at all levels.
- have a responsibility in ensuring that the Association uses its resources prudently and in accordance with the law. We will endeavour to ensure the proper, effective and efficient use of the charitable funds and other resources.
|Vice Chairman||Graham Wall|
|Chief Executive||Philip Hutt|
|Office Manager||Fiona Senior|
|Finance Administrator||Anne Johnson|
|Vice President||Lady Kitson|
|Vice President||Norman Cowling|
Since 1984 Kate Ashbrook has been general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, Britain’s oldest national conservation body, founded in 1865, which campaigns for commons, greens, open spaces and public paths. She is also vice-president and chair of the Ramblers; patron of the Walkers Are Welcome Towns Network; a member of the Institute of Rights of Way and Access Management; and a trustee and former president of the Dartmoor Preservation Association.
Kate took up a campaigning career because she fell in love with Dartmoor at an early age and was appalled by the many threats facing the moor. She learnt a great deal about campaigning from the Dartmoor champion Sylvia (Lady) Sayer. Kate owns Common Wood – 17 acres of common land above the River Tavy which, with help from the DPA conservation volunteers, she manages for fritillary butterflies.
William’s grandmother, Phyllis, sister of Sylvia Sayer and granddaughter of Robert Burnard, obtained the lease of Huccaby Farm Cottage in 1941. He spent most of his childhood and adult holidays there until the lease expired in 1986. In 1992, William and his wife, Jill, bought a house just south of Ashburton as a base from which to maintain their close links to Dartmoor.
William was a diplomat for 30 years, with postings in Vienna, Havana, Warsaw, briefly Moscow and Athens. On retirement in 2002, he joined British Airways for seven years as their International Risk Adviser. Since leaving BA, he has undertaken a similar role for Cathay Pacific Airways and worked as a consultant for two London-based risk management companies.
He has extensive experience of charity work, gained through his membership of the Worshipful Company of Skinners, of which he was Master in 2012/13. He spent 8 years on the committee of Lawrence Atwell’s Charity, founded by a Skinner from Exeter in 1588, the last 5 as chairman. He is now chairman of the Company’s Charity Committee, with oversight of its four grant-making charities and two almshouses and is also Honorary Colonel of 39 Signal Regiment (The Skinners), a reserve regiment based in Bristol which provides, among its tasks, communications for the Ten Tors.
I come from a farming family in Hayle, Cornwall, where Dad used a horse for ploughing. We grew tomatoes, freesias and daffodils for a living. As a schoolboy, I became interested in nature and bird watching – we overlooked the estuary which is now the RSPB Hayle Estuary Reserve. I left school in 1964 and later graduated in London with a B.Sc. (General Honours) degree in Botany and Zoology.
I started working at the Marine Biological Association of the UK in Plymouth in January 1969, in the electron microscopy unit. I was there for thirty-five years. Bernadette and I were married in the August and we started walking on Dartmoor on our honeymoon.
We had two children in the 1970s who were soon walking on Dartmoor. I did a WEA (Workers’ Education Association) class of evening walks in Oct-Dec. 1979 and, being keen, I repeated them at weekends, in daylight. I became famous in the November! The newspaper cutting says I was 32 and our son was 5 years old. We were due back from Down Tor stone row by 6 pm at the latest. The Search & Rescue Group found us at Middleworth at 9.40 pm – a few more minutes and we would have reached car. The next evening class was map and compass navigation on the moor! The class spawned a group that stayed together for about two years, planning and leading our own walks.
I also led walks for work friends, including overseas visitors to the lab – we even had a Japanese cricket player once. I sometimes led night walks and friends from Salzburg still remember the stars and the soup at Crazywell Pool in 1986.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, I became busy with my own “blue sky” research, working long hours and weekends. This led to scientific publications, presentations at conferences in Chicago, Toronto, Charleston and Ankara and at smaller meetings in UK and EU universities. I lectured each year at an international school near Innsbruck for 13 years. During this period, I was awarded a doctorate for my efforts in electron microscopy cryotechniques. I retired in 2004.
I joined the DPA in 2008 for its walks but I was soon side-tracked into conservation work. I remember cutting gorse to clear antiquities on Shaugh Moor in June 2008, because I collected some ticks and thereby started a year-long project, collecting more than 4,000. In September 2011, I was co-ordinating the start of the DPA project on Devonport Leat. The conservation work was fun until back-pain came along. I eventually gave up and in January 2017 I started to lead DPA short walks, which have proved to be popular and, like all DPA walks, they are free.
I have been a member of the Dartmoor Preservation Association since around 1981 when a DPA Flyer came through my letterbox. Whether this was a general mailshot to the world at large or a specific shot to me by someone who knew of my increasing love of Dartmoor I know not. The flyer made me think the DPA was an organisation that deserved my support and I have been here ever since.
I left Grammar school in Sussex age nearing 17 and started my career with Land Registry where I remained until retirement. My employment with Land Registry brought me to Plymouth in 1973 as one of a dozen or so pioneers who at that time formed the Land Registry’s embryonic and first computerisation team. Our first project was computerisation of land charges, then thought by some to be a small fish in the Land Registry’s scheme of things
My move to Plymouth encouraged a growing interest in walking for recreation and with Dartmoor on my doorstep what better place to recover from the rigours of early computers. An early purchase was Crossings Guide to Dartmoor (I still have it !) and one of my first walks in the heart of the moor was with a National Park Guide to Cranmere Pool in July 1973. There was just the two of us, we started from Batworthy Corner on a fairly good day. I have been to Cranmere Pool numerous times since but never from Batworthy Corner! Early experiences of walking on the moor led me to think “I will never master the geography of this “wilderness” and be able to find my way on my own”. Much of my walking in those early years was on my own and through practice, practice and more practice this “wilderness” became a place where I could find my way without getting lost and some ability to find my way became an accomplished skill. It is said by some that if one can navigate on Dartmoor one can navigate anywhere; there is more than a grain of truth in that. After a few years I joined the Dartmoor Rambling Club, amongst one of the oldest Rambling clubs in Devon having been founded in 1931 as the Plymouth Group of Holiday Fellowship. I have been its chairman for over 30 years.
I was fortunate to retire from Land Registry at an early age and I have spent the last 20 years or so exploring, rather than registering, lands at home and abroad. In retirement I have become active as a member, walks leader and area officer for the Ramblers. I have travelled throughout the UK and abroad to Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Canada and Greenland and much of Western Europe nearer to home. But if asked “What’s the most beautiful place I have ever visited” with no hesitation it’s Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye. Nearer home, Fur Tor and the West Okement river valley score highly in my league table of special places.
Three years into my retirement in 2000 saw the passing of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (The “CRoW” or the “right to roam” act) and that led me to take on the role as Ramblers Access Officer for Devon. The first task was to identify the land in Devon that Ramblers considered should be mapped as Open Country or access land under the CRoW Act. A most interesting and rewarding process which occupied much of my time over 2 or 3 years. I dealt with land owner appeals against the mapping, Vixen Tor being amongst the most notorious. It was around that time I became a trustee of Dartmoor Preservation Association. I like to think that my knowledge of the geography and topography of Dartmoor contributes something to trustees deliberations on Dartmoor matters.
By education and profession, I am a chemical engineer (BS and Masters degrees), working in the water industry in the USA, UK and Canada, almost retired. My first experience with Dartmoor consisted of one day while on holiday from the US with my wife, Jean, in 1979. We had entered the moor through Bovey Tracey, saw Becky Falls, got turned around in Manaton, had tea in Widecombe, saw gorse for the first time and took our first walk – about 20m upslope from the road above Beckamoor Combe. Not hooked, but wanting to delve deeper, we came back for two days in 1981, buying our first walking guide (Circular Walks for Motorists by Brian Le Messurier) to find out why the British use books to walk. Our sole walk that trip was a loop from Mary Tavy Church to Horndon, cutting short the guide’s direction to include Hill Bridge. On subsequent holidays we gradually extended walks on the moor, referring to them as our annual exercise.
Our explorations were enjoyable, but it was the loving encouragement of people we met that made our days. People went out of their way to do us favours, to show us Dartmoor and to make us feel at home. The combination of exercise, landscape and love hooked us on this special place; it became our spiritual home. In 1994, my company assigned me to some engineering projects in London. We made the most of our time, visiting Dartmoor almost every month. I joined the DPA as a life member. By 1998, when we moved to Horrabridge, we had walked all the public rights of way within the Park.
One DPA member I had met impressed me by his dissatisfaction with a strange dichotomy: such a large membership yet only a few members that were active. Joining the DPA is an important step in affirming commitment to preserving Dartmoor. I took up the challenge to be ‘active’, beating bracken on Roborough Down and at High House Waste. Days spent preserving the environment were infrequent at first due to demands of the job. On the cairn restoration project, I learned surveying. I was taught wall-building, brush cutting, and swaling. It is amazing how much knowledge, skill and energy our members have. They also provided return trips from my one-way walks to the various work sites. Again, it was not only preserving Dartmoor, but also the kindness and enthusiasm of our members that spurred me to become more active. For the last two years I have led some of the workdays at High House Waste, joined the Land Management Group and became a Trustee.