28 years of service to Wiltshire countryside recognised with national award

By Annabelle Sanderson
23rd November 2021

CPRE Wiltshire’s John Kirkman has been rewarded by the National organisation for 28 years of hard work for the charity. 

The Special Contribution Award, given for his dedication to the countryside including his hard work as a trustee and Past Chairman of the Wiltshire branch, was presented by current members of the committee including chairman Anne Henshaw and Trustees Charmian Spickernell and Kate Fielden.  

John has lived in Wiltshire for 36 years.  His love of the countryside stems from time roaming the fields of Buckinghamshire during World War II. As a young evacuee from East London, he had the opportunity to explore the countryside and gain the benefits which fresh air, wildlife and plants and exercise bring.  

When John stepped down as a Trustee, the committee felt there was no one more deserving of this recognition of long service and dedication to the charity and all the CPRE stands for.  

Following National Service in the RAF Education Branch, he moved into teaching. For the last 20 years before retiring in 2009, he travelled  widely in Europe and the USA as an advisor on scientific and technical writing. He has lived near Ramsbury for 37 years and joined CPRE to work to protect the beautiful countryside of the county.  

John joined the Kennet District Group Committee of the Wiltshire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England in 1993 and has served on that committee ever since.    

His particular interests are in protecting the North Wessex Downs AONB from insensitive development and in finding ways of accommodating renewable energy developments in the countryside, using land economically and doing minimum harm to the natural beauty of Wiltshire. 

‘I joined CPRE out of a desire to help resist the urban sprawl which threatens green field sites while previously developed land, ‘brownfield sites’, remains unused,’ he said.

‘I also felt it was important to ensure that the housing we do build in Wiltshire includes many more low cost homes so young people and families on lower incomes can afford to remain in the place where they grew up.

John wants to encourage other people to follow in his footsteps and sign up as members of the campaigning group. 

‘Being part of the CPRE is always interesting: you get to meet new people whose variety of interests and qualifications are invaluable in assessing widely differing applications for development

‘Planning is a complex matter with a mix of local and national policies, and well-reasoned differences of opinion.   It’s great to work as a Wiltshire team and join up with other county branches to bring about something which will benefit the countryside  of rural England.   Essentially, CPRE’s aim is not to stop change;  rather, it is to control and shape change in ways that recognise the particular interests and problems of rural communities.

‘Almost always, victories in fights over badly planned developments are achieved by working together and there is a feeling of real satisfaction when joint resistance with local councils and other campaign groups wins against insensitive or selfish proposals.’

Anyone who has an interest in rural communities, the countryside and issues affecting our county – from solar developments and water supplies to hedgerows and teaching children about nature – should sign up and be part of a group I have had the pleasure of working with for nearly three decade.’

Chairman Anne Henshaw asked people to join her in congratulating John and thanking him for all his hard work for CPRE.  

Two people searching for something against a cloudy blue sky