At our 50th Anniversary Conference, held at Losehill Hall in November 2016, we were delighted to announce the following honorary appointments and awards:
Honorary Ambassador - Ian Mercer
The late Ian Mercer was the first ever President of the Association of Countryside Rangers (ACR), now known as the Countryside Management Association. His passion and commitment was typical of the man who devoted his life’s work to the landscapes, wildlife and people of both Dartmoor and much further afield. Many members will remember Ian with deepest affection and CMA offers sincere gratitude for his dedication and hard work as ACR President. CMA wholeheartedly supports every word of the thoroughly deserved tribute written by Kevin Bishop, Chief Executive of Dartmoor National Park.
Honorary Patron - Chris Baines
Chris Baines is one of the UK’s leading environmental campaigners, an award-winning writer and broadcaster and an experienced speaker at national and international conferences.
He grew up in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. He worked in the local parks department when he left school, and then studied horticulture and landscape architecture at university. BBC ‘Countryfile’ evolved from his original regional series “Your Country Needs You” and Chris was one of Countryfile’s early presenters.
Chris also built the first wildlife garden ever allowed at Chelsea Flower Show in 1985, and in the same year his television programme ‘Bluetits and Bumblebees’, and his book, ‘How to Make a Wildlife Garden’ (recently re-released) inspired many people to begin gardening with wildlife for the past 40 years.
Chris Baines has been working as a self-employed freelancer, and advises government ministers, local councils and senior executives in major water, minerals, finance, construction and housing companies, on environmental practice. He was awarded the RSPB annual medal in 2004, and the Sir Peter Scott medal from the British Naturalists Association in 2012.
Chris Baines gave a surprise final presentation at CMA’s 50th Anniversary Conference in November 2016, as our new Honorary Patron. Chris has inspired many within CMA in their careers and we are extremely grateful to Chris for taking up this position.
President - Gordon Miller
Gordon Miller’s life has been one devoted to the protection of the global environment, its fauna and flora and in the defence of the world’s special places. When he was 15 and still at school (1956) Gordon volunteered as a youth warden in the Peak National Park in Derbyshire, qualifying as a “cadet warden” in 1960. He then took a post as a part-time warden and eventually joined the park staff as a full-time warden in 1969 remaining with the National Park until his retirement in 2001.
In 1969 Gordon became a member of the Association of National Park and Countryside Rangers becoming its chairman in 1982. It was during his chairmanship that RANGER magazine was started in 1984. In 1992 the Association in partnership with ranger associations of the USA and Scotland, formed the International Ranger Federation (IRF) and Gordon became its first President. During his tenure as President of the IRF Gordon worked tirelessly to bring together rangers from around the world to share their experiences and knowledge and share resources and expertise.
In just a few years, Gordon’s efforts and leadership saw the Federation grow from three member associations to over fifty, distributed throughout all regions of the world. He has been actively involved in all World Congress with several hundred rangers attending each. Gordon’s contribution to the success of these gatherings cannot be underestimated. He has been proactive in both the practical organisation of such events through to sourcing funds from various donors to ensure Rangers from developing countries are able to attend at low or nil cost. His wide experience, his passion and infectious enthusiasm, continues to be made available to all those engaged in defending the worlds’ protected areas.
Vice-President - Roger Cole
Roger started working in protected area management as a career “change of direction”. After working in over 50 countries around the world in agricultural research for 30 years, he joined Lee Valley Regional Park in 1995, taking on the responsibility for managing the countryside ranger team, conservation work and the park’s commercial farm and recreational fisheries.
He joined the CMA in 1996, becoming at various times (though not all at the same time) Vice Chairman; Regional Chair for the Eastern region; marketing adviser; international adviser and editor of RANGER magazine.
He also became active in the International Ranger Federation (IRF), attending World Ranger Congresses in South Africa; Australia, Tanzania and USA. He was the CMA representative on the CMA/SCRA organising team for the 2006 IRF World Ranger Congress in Stirling Scotland and has been actively involved in the setting up of IRF Europe.
His dedication to European networking has seen him represent CMA in various ranger meetings in Scotland, Denmark, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and France. He co-ordinates the IRF annual Ranger Roll of Honour, recording the details of all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Honorary Fellow - Colin Dilcock
Probably longer ago than Colin would like to remember, he succeeded the first North York Moors National Park Head Warden, Dick bell, as Head Ranger.
The Countryside Management Association began life as The Association of National Park Wardens and Colin joined around 1972/73. After the association changed its name to the Association of Countryside Rangers (ACR), Colin held the role of Treasurer for many years and was an activist in the Northern Region of the ACR / CMA.
Colin was also the CMA International Adviser during the 1990’s. Colin has been a stalwart member of CMA (and all its former guises) for several decades and has been a guiding light to many rangers ever since. His dedication and commitment to countryside management, and those who undertake it, is inspirational.
Honorary Fellow - Dan Barnett
Dan began work within the countryside management sector in 1998, initially volunteering at an urban Local Nature Reserve near Dudley before getting his first job as an Assistant Warden with Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council’s countryside team.
In 2001 he started work as a Countryside Sites Officer with Worcestershire County Council’s Countryside Service and in 2003 got a job as Senior Countryside Sites Officer. In 2008 Dan had a big move down to Exmoor to begin work for the National Park Authority and now manages the Ranger Team, Field Services, ROW and Access.
Dan has a wide range of experience managing land in Country Parks, Nature Reserves and SSSI’s and helping people to enjoy and understand more about the countryside and wild places, most recently within our National Parks.
Dan has been a member of the CMA for over 10 years and has worked as a Board Member, Vice Chair and most recently as Chairman for a period of seven years. During that time Dan worked tirelessly to refocus the organisation on the key things that support our members and keep them supportive. Under his leadership the Association weathered some difficult times but is now in a strong position to grow and prosper, due to his persistence and the crucial partnership he brokered with the National Trust in 2015, which saw them become our largest corporate member.
Honorary Fellow - Dave Solly
Dave has been involved in countryside and greenspace management since 1988 and an active a CMA member since 1992. He’s had various roles in CMA over the years including Midlands region Chair and newsletter editor, conference organiser and Treasurer. He has been a stalwart on the CMA board for many years and his sage advice and extensive experience have been tremendously valuable to the organisation.
Life Member - Ian Brooker
Ian has worked for both private and local authority countryside services since 1983 and has been a member of the CMA since 1984. He has worked for Dartmoor National Park Authority since 1990. He has a good knowledge of Ranger Services throughout the World and has attended several European and World Ranger Congresses. He also spent nine months in Newfoundland, Canada in 2000/2001 on a Ranger exchange programme.
Ian is an active member in the CMA SW region committee he has acted as the CMA’s International Advisor for many years. He is also the driving force behind the South West Ranger Forum. This CMA-endorsed annual event provides an excellent opportunity for rangers across the south west to meet up for a site visit somewhere in the region. These events are always interesting and well-attended, and Ian always takes the opportunity to promote the benefits of being a member of the CMA.
Life Member - Matthew Chatfield
After training as a zoologist, Matt volunteered for BTCV in West Sussex and eventually in 1989 got a job for Hampshire County Council as a countryside ranger and was proud to join the then Association of Countryside Rangers. He’s been at it ever since, working for the National Trust at Wicken Fen; Basildon District Council, and latterly the Isle of Wight Council. In 2016 he joined an Isle of Wight charity called Gift to Nature and took most of the IW Council’s sites and staff with him in a brave experiment in outsourcing.
Matt has managed the CMA website for over 16 years, including this latest CMA website. CMA is really grateful for his ongoing support and assistance.
Life Member - Derek Evans
Like many people over a certain age, Derek says his first experience of conservation was reading Gerald Durrell’s book ‘My Family and Other Animals’ at school. After volunteering with a conservation group in Liverpool, he knew countryside management was the career path for him.
After being a ranger at Runcorn Town Park, an employment training scheme on the Sefton Coast and a couple of years as an urban ranger in Sefton, he landed countryside management job in Leicestershire, managing ancient woodland and unimproved grassland. A ‘countryside open day’, organised by Derek is still an annual event 22 years later. He then joined CMA, eventually acting as the Leicestershire County Rep.
Derek attended the World Ranger Congress in Kruger in 2000 and the 7th WRC held in Arusha National Park in Tanzania in 2012. Meeting rangers from around the world, some facing life threatening situations almost daily made me realise that all the gripes I had at work were actually pretty minor and that, no matter where in the world a ranger works, the job is basically the same.
Meeting African Rangers at these World Ranger Congresses, brings it home just how much these colleagues put their life on the line. Derek organised a disc golf competition at Lee Valley Park to raise funds on 31th July 2014 and similar events since. He aims to continue helping raise funds for our colleagues oversees.
The CMA thanks Derek for all his hard work and encourages others to follow his lead.