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CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire celebrate Centenary milestone

9th May 2024

A leading countryside charity, is proud to announce its official centenary milestone, marking 100 years of unwavering commitment to protect the landscapes of the Peak District and South Yorkshire countryside.

The picturesque setting of Whirlow Brook Hall, nestled within the Green Belt of Sheffield, provided the perfect backdrop for a memorable evening as supporters, volunteers, staff, and partner organisations gathered to celebrate the Centenary of CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire.

The milestone event was a testament to a Century of work dedicated to the preservation and beauty of the countryside. Keynote speaker Dame Fiona Reynolds delivered a poignant reflection on the charity’s remarkable journey, highlighting its enduring impact on the local landscapes we cherish today.

Adding to the evening’s celebrations, acclaimed local author Helen Mort unveiled her latest work – a biography exploring the life of CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire’s visionary founder, Ethel Haythornthwaite. The launch of this insightful book served as a fitting tribute to the pioneering spirit that laid the foundation for the charity’s enduring legacy.

Throughout the evening, guests mingled and shared stories of the charity’s achievements over the past century, and there was a palpable sense of pride and gratitude for the collective efforts that have shaped the countryside and its communities.

About CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire

CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire was originally founded by Ethel Haythornthwaite on 7th May 1924 when she established the Sheffield Association for the Protection of Rural Scenery. This went on to become the local branch of CPRE in 1927.

Following the death of her first husband, Ethel was encouraged by her family to take rejuvenating walks in the countryside and moorland which surrounded Sheffield. In doing so, she discovered the profound positive impact nature had on her physical and mental well-being. This, in part, illuminated Ethel’s passion and commitment to the countryside and fundamental to this, was that the countryside could be accessed by everyone, in order to experience those benefits.

Ethel later married Gerald Haythornthwaite and together they were a formidable force using their enthusiasm and determination to protect the countryside of what was to become Britain’s first national park – the Peak District.

Key achievements

As a leading environmental charity, CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire has been at the forefront of countryside protection. Over the past century, some of the charity’s key achievements include:

  • The purchase of land to protect it from inappropriate development; including much-loved areas such as the Mayfield Valley, Longshaw Estate and Blacka Moor
  • Establishing England’s first Green Belt – the Sheffield Green Belt
  • Designation of Britain’s first National Park – the Peak District

The role of CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire today

On their 100th anniversary, CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire is in a unique position to protect the countryside and help its communities thrive.

“From the very start the charity has championed the beauty and preservation of the countryside and our tireless efforts have shaped many of the local landscapes we all cherish today. Whilst our fundamental purpose to protect the landscapes of the Peak District and South Yorkshire countryside remains at the heart of our work, we continue to face new and complex challenges which simply didn’t exist one hundred years ago.”

“Moving forward, a key part of our work is to connect people with the environment, working towards a more sustainable future in which both the countryside and its communities can thrive – economically, socially and environmentally.” comments Tomo Thompson, CEO of CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire.

The charity recognises that there is there is a desperate need for housing and that National Parks have been underfunded for many years. This is exacerbated by the nature and climate crises. Despite these challenges, CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire remains steadfast in its commitment to champion and promote the countryside, ensuring that more people can benefit from its rejuvenating effects whilst safeguarding the environment for generations to come.

Pictured: Dame Fiona Reynolds, Roger Mortlock, Helen Mort, Lord Mayor of Sheffield and Tomo Thompson