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Blue heritage plaque to commemorate CPRE PDSY founder Ethel Haythornthwaite

25th May 2022

CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire have unveiled a blue heritage plaque to commemorate the life of our charity’s founder, Ethel Haythornthwaite MBE.

The plaque stands on a boulder of local rock in the beautiful grounds of the Endcliffe Student Village at the University of Sheffield, where Ethel Haythornthwaite was born.

Ethel was born Ethel Mary Bassett Ward on 18th January 1894, in Endcliffe Vale House, which stood in the grounds of what is now the student village.

She founded the charity there at a meeting in May 1924. She and her husband Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Haythornthwaite later ran the charity for many years from 22a Endcliffe Crescent – also on the student village site – after Endcliffe Vale House was demolished.

Ethel Haythornthwaite
Ethel Haythornthwaite was the pioneering environmentalist who founded our charity 98 years ago.

The blue heritage plaque at the heart of the student village commemorate’s Ethel’s life and achievements, and the long association between CPRE PDSY and the University of Sheffield.

Sir Henry Hadow, the then Vice Chancellor of the University, was appointed president of the charity at its inaugural meeting.

The plaque was cast by the Leander Architectural foundry at Dove Holes on the edge of the Peak District and is mounted on a local gritstone boulder donated by Andrew Vickers, the Sheffield sculptor also known as Stoneface.

Plaque unveiled by Dame Fiona Reynolds

The plaque was unveiled before an invited audience by Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE, the CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire branch president and an honorary graduate of the University of Sheffield.

Dame Fiona told our guests that Ethel Haythornthwaite had achieved extraordinary successes, paving the way for Sheffield’s protected Green Belt countryside and the creation of the Peak District as the country’s first national park. She had also helped protect vital countryside estates like Longshaw and Blacka Moor from development.

“She was a great heroine of mine, a great heroine to many of the people here. and a great heroine in our movement,” she said.

“I can remember first meeting Ethel and her husband Gerald in the nineteen eighties, and I vividly remember realising that I was in the company of two extraordinary people.

“The inspiration that they gave me reminded that the goals of protecting the countryside and campaigning for the countryside are just so, so important.”

Dame Fiona Reynolds unveils the blue heritage plaque
CPRE PSDY President Dame Fiona Reynolds unveils the blue heritage plaque commemorating our founder, Ethel Haythornthwaite. | Gemma Thorpe

CPRE PDSY chief executive Tomo Thompson, who also spoke at the unveiling, said the CPRE branch was delighted to have worked closely with the University to achieve a “beautiful and fitting” recognition of Ethel Haythornthwaite’s achievements.

“The plaque stands on tree-lined grassland at the heart of the beautiful student village and faces towards the Peak District countryside that she did so much to champion and protect,” said Tomo.

“Ethel and her husband Gerald became a formidable partnership in the early UK environmental movement.

“We are deeply grateful to the university for helping us to remember Ethel with this beautiful plaque.”

Dame Fiona Reynolds and Tomo Thompson after the unveiling of the blue plaque.
Dame Fiona Reynolds and Tomo Thompson after the unveiling of the blue plaque. | CPRE PDSY

University Vice Chancellor pays tribute

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “The University is honoured to host a heritage plaque to commemorate Ethel’s achievements.

“Sheffield is very lucky to have the Peak District on its doorstep.  It brings tremendous benefits to the health and wellbeing of our city’s residents and it is a unique asset that helps to attract visitors and students to our region.

“We are delighted to celebrate the long-lasting legacy of Ethel’s work.”

Our thanks to everybody who helped us

CPRE PDSY would like to thank Leander Architectural for their skilled work in casting the plaque, and Andrew Vickers for kindly donating the beautiful stone mount.

We would also like to thank the Sheffield Star newspaper and its readers for its campaigning coverage in helping to raise money to pay for the plaque. We are deeply grateful to everybody who contributed to our online fundraiser.

As we approach our centenary in 2024, the work of the charity has never been more important.

We rely on income from membership, donations and legacies to undertake our vital work. You can make a contribution here. Thank you!

Lifting the boulder into place before installing the plaque
Andrew Vickers (R) and his son Tom (L) from Stoneface Creative lift the gritstone boulder for the plaque into place. | CPRE PDSY
Andrew Vickers (Stoneface) and his son Tom after placing the boulder
Andrew Vickers (Stoneface) and his son Tom after placing the boulder | CPRE PDSY
Ted McAvoy from Leander Architectural fitting the blue heritage plaque
Ted McAvoy from Leander Architectural fitting the blue heritage plaque | CPRE PDSY
Job done! Ted and his assistant, Peat, with the plaque in place. | CPRE PDSY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue heritage plaque commemorating our founder Ethel Haythornthwaite
Blue heritage plaque commemorating our founder Ethel Haythornthwaite CPRE PDSY
Quernmore landscape