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Sheffield Libraries Honoured with Copies of 'Ethel: The Biography of Countryside Pioneer Ethel Haythornthwaite'

9th July 2024

In celebration of CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire’s Centenary milestone, the charity has generously donated four copies of “Ethel: The Biography of Countryside Pioneer Ethel Haythornthwaite” to Broomhill Community Library.

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 at The University of Sheffield. She founded the Sheffield Association for the Protection of Rural Scenery on 7th May 1924, which went on to become the local branch of CPRE in 1927.

Enthralled by the breath-taking beauty of a thriving countryside, Ethel dedicated her life to preserve the natural landscapes of the Peak District and South Yorkshire countryside, for the enjoyment of all.

Through her environmental campaigning, she led public appeals to acquire land and protect green spaces from inappropriate development. This included much-loved areas such as the Longshaw Estate and Blacka Moor, which were gifted to the people of Sheffield so that they could be enjoyed freely by everyone, for generations to come.

The work of Ethel and CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire, paved the way for Sheffield’s Green Belt status – England’s first and the designation of Britain’s first National Park – the Peak District. Yet this remarkable woman is virtually unknown, even in her home town of Sheffield – the UK’s outdoor city.

Connected through their love of poetry and the great outdoors, award-winning, author Helen Mort explores Ethel’s life as a pioneer, activist, environmentalist and poet. Having been given unrestricted access to Ethel’s archive, the Sheffield author, has written a series of letters to Ethel’s memory. Every page is a heartfelt tribute to Ethel’s enduring legacy and the charity’s unwavering dedication to promote and protect the natural landscapes of the Peak District and South Yorkshire countryside.

The book also includes a full reproduction of Ethel’s long-form poem The Pride of the Peak, originally published in 1926.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the charity’s founder by sharing the inspiring story of Ethel Haythornthwaite with the people of Sheffield through these donated copies,” said Tomo Thompson, CEO at CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire. “Ethel’s dedication to the countryside and our commitment to uphold her values for the past 100 years have been instrumental in shaping many of the local landscapes we all cherish today. We hope that these books will serve as a source of inspiration and knowledge for all who read them.”

A spokesperson from Sheffield Libraries expressed their joy at receiving this fantastic book from CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire in honour of its Centenary. Ethel, who was born nearby, holds a special place in the hearts of many. This book not only allows those who knew her personally to revisit her remarkable achievements but also introduces her inspiring story to new audiences who may be unfamiliar with her legacy.

The donated copies of “Ethel: The Biography of Countryside Pioneer” will be available for loan at Broomhill library, giving anyone with a Sheffield Libraries Card the opportunity to delve into the life of a prominent environmentalist and a trailblazer of the countryside movement nationally.