The countryside champions

A Celebration to Remember

CPRE Hampshire hosted a celebration to mark the birth of the new South Downs National Park on the evening of Wednesday, 31st March 2010. Around 80 guests attended the early evening reception with a delicious variety of savoury and dessert canapes, held at the splendid and tranquil setting of the Tithe Barn at Ditcham, near Petersfield.

Guests were held spellbound by a very special and moving, photographic tribute to the now National Park area presented by the South Downs Campaign chairman, Robin Crane. A statement of support from author Bill Bryson was read out on his behalf by Christopher Napier of CPRE Hampshire.

guests at party meon

Emma Marrington (CPRE), Margaret Paren NPA Chair and Chris Todd SD Campaign

more guests at party meon

Keith Wood NPA member, Jill Wood and Jim Redwood Head of Planning NPA


A Message from Bill Bryson

bill bryson

Dear friends,

It is with huge regret that I am unable to join you today at your celebration party to celebrate the success of CPRE in its campaigning for a South Downs National Park. I would have loved to have been there with you to celebrate this most astounding achievement. Thinking back to visiting the Western Weald in late 2007 when I met several of you from CPRE Hampshire and CPRE Sussex, it was immediately clear how passionate and dedicated all of the people involved in this campaign were and that this was a campaign that had to be won.

At the time, CPRE, as part of the South Downs Campaign coalition, faced the seemingly impossible task of securing the widest possible boundary, including the Western Weald, Lewes and Ditchling.

The campaigning work of CPRE, raising the profi le of the issue in the media, playing a pivotal role at the re-opened Public Inquiry, promoting the hugely successful postcard campaign to show Government how popular the National Park is and never, ever, giving up hope, has led to this breathtaking achievement - the nation can now welcome the South Downs to the National Park family.

It has been an absolute privilege for me to be part of your campaign. It has also been a privilege for me to meet so many of the people who have made this dream a reality - your absolute determination and dedication to the cause is an inspiration. Congratulations again to all at the Campaign to Protect Rural England and all of the people who have fought for so long to ensure that the South Downs is now, finally, the South Downs National Park.

Bill Bryson

This article first appeared in Hampshire Views No.1, Spring/Summer 2009 (PDF).