Marsh Awards for a Beautiful Living Countryside

This Award recognised volunteers from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) who have helped to action the protection or enhancement of rural England.

The Award was presented from 2008 until 2013.

Henry Best and West Oxfordshire District Group 2013

Henry Best – Henry has been a volunteer with CPRE Somerset for over 20 years, taking on a number of high level roles. He has worked closely with groups of volunteers to challenge planning applications which threaten the countryside, including the influential campaign opposing plans for continuous dualling of the A303 in 2001-2. Without Henry’s hard work and determination, the Somerset branch would have ceased to exist. His leadership, steadfastness, aspiration and financial savvy carried the branch through its lowest ebb while ensuring their work continued.

CPRE West Oxfordshire – For 25 years, the Group lead a campaign to oppose the building of the Cogges Link Road, an expensive and environmentally damaging road which would have disrupted an important green space, a designated flood plain and a wildlife-rich country park. They have linked up with local campaign groups and individuals and garnered significant public support thanks to the extensive and sustained media coverage they have attracted. In June 2012, the compulsory purchase orders necessary for the county council to proceed with building the road were refused which was a triumphant conclusion to the group’s fight and meant that the water meadows and country park would remain unspoiled for years to come.

Previous Winners

Alex Hills and Shirley Fieldhouse

Alex Hills – Alex worked single-handedly to coordinate the campaign against Gravesham Borough Council’s plans to build significantly on the Green Belt land in the district. He helped inspire local residents, spoke at local meetings and brought together a number of action groups to form them into a cohesive campaigning force, organising marches and publicity stunts which attracted the attention of the local press. Alex also lobbied local councillors and his MP. CPRE Kent say that his is possibly the hardest working volunteer they have and his dedication to the charity is exceptional.

Shirley Fieldhouse – Shirley has been a volunteer with CPRE for over 35 years, campaigning tirelessly to help protect and enhance the Cambridgeshire countryside in a variety of roles. She was very involved with looking at the impact of the proposed new town at Mereham, scrutinising planning applications, submitting evidence at the public inquiry and representing the views of local residents. Shirley has a breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding of rural and community life, development and the planning system which is almost unique and her contribution to the organisation is invaluable.

Bob Barefoot and CPRE Norfolk Green Buildings Team

Bob Barefoot – Bob became Chairman of CPRE North Devon in 2006 and immediately worked on a public inquiry into a proposed wind farm which threatened the landscape in an area just South of Exmoor National Park. Bob and the group worked with local residents, the Exmoor National Park authority and the Exmoor society to submit objections. In 2009 Bob formed the Rural Exmoor Alliance and found a QC who would represent them pro bono throughout the 12 month inquiry as well as seven expert witnesses. He also succeeded in raising more than £50,000 to cover the costs of the inquiry. All this paid off in January 2010 when the Inspector refused planning permission for the two wind farms.

CPRE Norfolk Green Buildings Team – The team have coordinated guided tours through homes and community buildings in the town which have a low environmental impact. They have researched and selected the buildings and created promotional materials to advertise the tours. Theirs was the first event of its kind and it has since been replicated by groups across the country and has resulted in media coverage, new members and volunteers and sponsorship for the group. Over 2,000 visits have taken place since 2007 and 83% of visitors are inspired to make changes to their own homes after attending.

Patrick Kinnersley and John Westmoreland and CPRE Oswestry

Patrick Kinnersley – Patrick devoted an immense amount of time, dedication and expertise to the campaign to stop the Westbury Bypass which would have been driven through some of the most treasured, beautiful, historically important and tranquil landscape in the region. He marshalled expert witnesses, briefed the press, gave interviews and carried out fundraising for the campaign. Patrick’s research enabled the campaign to have an evidence-based approach which was key to their success.

John Westmoreland – John was Secretary of CPRE Fylde since 2000 and completed first-rate work in the campaign against a proposed housing development next to Wesham Marsh, a designated Biological Heritage Site. He compiled a comprehensive, well-researched objection and then co-ordinated other interested groups to create a cohesive opposition to the development. John single-handedly produced a Landscape Character Assessment which set out in graphic detail what was at risk from the development. The District County Council has voted unanimously to oppose the planning application.

CPRE Oswestry – These volunteers have worked to forge and guide campaigns against four recent developments in the town which are threatening the small town. Their work has been underpinned by innovative technical analysis and has been highly effective. The Group have embraced positive messages, with promotions such as ‘Keep Our Town Special’ and ‘Love Oswestry’, and focused on what they want as a community as a whole. The four proposals are on hold, marking a significant achievement in an ongoing battle of a community led by CPRE against a descent into Clone Town status.

Gordon Garraway and CPRE Northamptonshire

Martin Walton and CPRE Hampshire