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.
Profiles of the DPA trustees can be found below.
VICE PRESIDENT -
Lady Elizabeth Kitson OBE DL
John's love for Dartmoor traces back to his parents, who instilled a passion for the moor through their enthusiasm for walking. His father's work in the railways' Control Centre at Exeter St David's further nurtured their connection to the area. John vividly recalls accompanying his parents on train rides to Okehampton, where, as a child in a pram, he would traverse the military ring road out to OP 15, fostering his early appreciation for Dartmoor's landscapes.
The DPA has been an integral part of John's life from an early age. As a mature student, he pursued an Open University degree encompassing subjects such as Archaeology, Geology, Contested Environments, and How Technology Shaped Early Societies. This comprehensive course of study perfectly aligns with his profound love for the environment, landscapes, archaeology, and photography.
In addition to his involvement with the DPA, John actively engages in various voluntary roles. He serves as the Walking Environment Officer for the Devon Area of the Ramblers, leading walks for both Ramblers and other groups. Furthermore, he holds the position of Chairman for the Two Moors Way Association. John's dedication to fostering access and user representation is evident through his membership in the Dartmoor Access Forum, where he serves as a representative for user groups.
Having served as a Trustee of the DPA for numerous years and previously holding the role of Vice Chairman for one term, John has held the position of DPA Chairman since May 2020.
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 former 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.
Alison takes great pride in her membership and trustee role within the DPA. With a background as a retired teacher, her teaching career began in Tavistock.
During the 1970s, Alison played a pivotal role in establishing the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme in the Tavistock area, serving as the committee chair for an impressive 18 years. She is particularly thrilled that the DPA supports the Moor Boots project, which benefits present-day participants in the scheme.
Beyond her involvement with the DPA, Alison has held various significant positions in local government. She served as a West Devon Borough Councillor for an extended period, assuming leadership roles such as Leader and Mayor twice. Additionally, she chaired the Rural Commission of the Local Government Association, representing councils across England and Wales.
Alison's dedication to environmental matters extended to her participation in the Devon Countryside Access Forum and the Regional Environment Protection Advisory Committee.
Alison's commitment to the DPA is evident in her 25-year tenure as a Life Member. While she recognizes that Dartmoor is a living and working environment, she harbours concerns about the future of its "wild places." She firmly believes in the continuous pursuit of the highest level of protection for National Parks.
In her leisure time, when she isn't caring for her grandchildren, Alison finds joy in activities such as walking, playing tennis, traveling, and tending to her wildlife garden.
William’s grandmother, Phyllis, sister of Sylvia Sayer and granddaughter of Robert Burnard, obtained the lease of Huccaby Farm Cottage in the mid 1930s. 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 where they still live.
William was a diplomat for 30 years, with postings in Vienna, Havana, Warsaw, briefly Moscow and Athens. On retirement in 2002, when he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG), he then spent seven years with British Airways as their International Risk Adviser. On leaving BA, he undertook a similar role for Cathay Pacific Airways and worked as a consultant for two London-based risk management companies.
William is a Trustee 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, the last 5 as chairman. He was also, until 2020, Honorary Colonel of 39 Signal Regiment (The Skinners), a reserve regiment based in Bristol which among its tasks provides secure communications for the annual Ten Tors event.
Claude, by education and profession, is a chemical engineer who has worked in the water industry in the USA, UK, and Canada. Having recently retired, he brings a wealth of experience to his involvement with Dartmoor. His first encounter with Dartmoor dates back to 1979 when he and his wife, Jean, visited on holiday from the US. Exploring the moor through Bovey Tracey, they encountered Becky Falls, which sparked their curiosity and interest.
After relocating to England, Claude met a member of the DPA, who highlighted the contrast between the large membership and the limited number of active members. Recognising the significance of joining the DPA in preserving Dartmoor, Claude took up the challenge of becoming "active." Initially, due to the demands of his day job, he could only participate in environmental preservation activities sporadically.
Throughout his involvement, Claude engaged in various projects such as cairn restoration, where he acquired skills in surveying, wall-building, brush cutting, and swaling. The depth of knowledge, skills, and energy demonstrated by fellow DPA members left a lasting impression on him. It was not only the conservation work itself that motivated him but also the kindness and enthusiasm exhibited by his fellow members.
Over the past four years, Claude has taken on a leadership role, organizing workdays at High House Waste. Additionally, he joined the Land Management Group and assumed the responsibility of being a Trustee, further solidifying his commitment to Dartmoor's preservation.
Claude's dedication and contributions exemplify his passion for Dartmoor and his desire to actively contribute to its conservation efforts.
Originally, John's employment with the Land Registry brought him to Plymouth in 1973 as part of the pioneering team responsible for the Land Registry's initial computerisation efforts.
However, in the past two decades, he has shifted his focus from registering lands to exploring them, both at home and abroad. As retirement beckoned, John became actively involved as a DPA member, serving as a walks leader and area officer for the Ramblers. His passion for exploration has taken him across the UK and to various destinations such as Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Canada, and Greenland. Yet, when asked about the most beautiful place he has ever visited, he unequivocally points to Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye. Closer to home, Fur Tor and the West Okement river valley hold prominent positions on his personal list of special places.
Around three years into his retirement, the passing of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (commonly known as the "CRoW" or the "right to roam" act) in 2000 motivated John to assume the role of Ramblers Access Officer for Devon. This engaging and rewarding position demanded much of his time over a period of two to three years. Among his responsibilities, he dealt with landowner appeals against the CRoW mapping, including notorious cases such as Vixen Tor. It was during this period that he also became a Trustee of the Dartmoor Preservation Association.
John's extensive knowledge of Dartmoor's geography and topography adds value to the Trustees' deliberations on matters concerning the moor.
Jane holds an Archaeology degree from the University of Exeter, which laid the foundation for her impressive career in the field. For a remarkable 25 years, she worked as an archaeologist for the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA), contributing significantly to the preservation and understanding of Dartmoor's rich heritage. In the final five years leading up to her retirement, Jane held the esteemed position of Senior Archaeologist within the DNPA.
During her tenure, Jane not only conducted archaeological investigations but also provided valuable guidance to her DNPA colleagues and offered expert archaeological input in response to statutory consultations, including planning, woodland schemes, and under grounding schemes. Her ability to handle queries from students and members of the public demonstrated her commitment to public engagement and knowledge dissemination.
One of the standout highlights of Jane's career was her involvement in the excavation of the early Bronze Age cist on Whitehorse Hill, a project partly funded by the DPA. The remarkable preservation of material finds unearthed during the excavation garnered international interest, emphasising the significance of Dartmoor's archaeological heritage.
Jane's personal interests within the field of archaeology lie in the study of lithic artefacts (stone tools) and the works of early antiquaries. Even in retirement, her passion for Dartmoor endures, and she continues to devote a considerable amount of time to exploring the moor on foot.
Living near Okehampton, Jane frequently embarks on walks across the north moor, often accompanied by her loyal flat-coated retriever.
Gian Ellis joined the DPA as a result of his niece’s interest in archaeology. They joined the DPA volunteer team together to learn about Dartmoor’s history and to get involved in conservation.
Gian is a chartered environmental manager with a 30-year career within large civil engineering consultancies. He has worked on a wide variety of infrastructure projects both nationally and internationally from road schemes, housing developments, rail infrastructure, utilities and waste management.
With regards to Dartmoor, he says, “I believe that National Parks are vital to the nation’s wellbeing and that these precious landscapes need people to dedicate time to protecting them. As Trustee my watch word is impact. I am very keen for the Dartmoor Preservation Association to continue to have a major impact on the moor, into the future, and I am particularly keen to support programmes that encourage young people to access and value Dartmoor.”
Nathan serves as the Head of Fundraising and Trading at Bath Cats and Dogs Home, where he oversees a dedicated team responsible for raising the necessary funds to support the home's operations, amounting to over £2 million per year. With nearly a decade of experience in the third sector, he has worked with both national and local charities in the UK and Canada.
Nathan's connection to outdoor education runs deep, as it was the sector in which he began his career. He holds a strong passion for preserving wild spaces that provide opportunities for adventure. Recognising the significance of keeping Dartmoor wild and accessible, he believes it is crucial for future generations. Through such access, young individuals can develop self-esteem, take personal responsibility, cooperate with and respect others' needs, and expand their horizons by cultivating a greater appreciation and understanding of sustainable relationships between people and their environment.
During his free time, Nathan indulges in activities such as running and participating in triathlons. His love for the outdoors often leads him to wild camp on the moor, immersing himself in the beauty and tranquillity of Dartmoor's natural surroundings.
Tom Usher - Chief Executive Officer
Carole Chesterton - Finance and Membership Lead
Kelly Rich - Communications Officer
We are proud of our skilled and active volunteering team and the impact that they have on the local area.
Our volunteer coordinator is Sylvia Hamilton, and beside her works a team of dedicated organisers who have contributed a lot of time and effort to create opportunities to interact with the Dartmoor landscape:
Val Barns, Derek Collins, Anne and Tim Whitbourn, Bill Radcliffe, Julia Quant, plus many other walk and conservation workday leaders.