Godalming & Haslemere Ramblers

On 19 January 2017 five members of our Footpath Working Party installed this at the end of a footpath in Elstead (SU905444, GU8 6LG). It is by Paulshott Cottage at the Fulbrook Lane end of the path that runs between the B3001 and Fulbrook Lane. There will be a ceremony on Thursday 9 March 2017 at 2pm when Susan Holmes will officially open the gate.

Denis died in February 2015. The following is part of the obituary that appeared in our newsletter in June 2015.

Elstead’s parish church was standing room only on 7 March for the service to celebrate the life of Denis, who had died a month earlier, aged 81. A good proportion of the congregation had known Denis through his long membership of the Ramblers and his dedicated service to walking in the countryside, which was one of his inspirations.

Denis was a founder member of the Godalming Group in 1974 and of the merged Godalming and Haslemere Group a couple of years later. He was also much involved with the Ramblers more widely and was planning to attend the 2015 national conference after Easter.

Denis served Ramblers’ Surrey Area both as vice-chairman in 2001 and then for seven years as chairman from 2003. His determination to make the area meetings a more¬†lively and more focused forum for open discussion of the shared experiences of walking problems was much appreciated.

He became Footpath Secretary for all the southern parishes of Waverley Borough. His background as a Customs & Excise civil servant gave him a strong commitment to proper procedures, and at one time he was allocating one day a week to this post. His rights of way work was highly regarded and he proved that he was a worthy successor to John Ford, George Hyde and Mike Cross, all three of whom were dedicated advocates of a better rights of way network.

He also actively contributed to the way marking of the Greensand Way in SW Surrey both at its instigation and more recently. He supported and encouraged working parties throughout the life of the group and he spent many a day erecting finger posts and stiles.

Richard Evans particularly recalls Denis’s work concerning two important public inquiries. Notably, at the Hindhead Tunnel public inquiry he led a small team of four members in what was the largest such inquiry where Ramblers was represented by local volunteers. It was a pleasure to work with him and to be able to present my research at his team meetings. It was a big success, with walkers gaining two extra crossings of the open stretch of the dual A3.

At Bramshott we worked with the parish council to gain a highly convenient link between the two areas of the common. At Thursley he was joyously surprised at the ministerial decision to include the Hindhead Hill Underpass against the wishes of the Highways Agency.

Later he took his skills to West Sussex at the inquiry into the Pitshill diversion near Tillington. The Ramblers and other objectors won the first inquiry, but when the inquiry was re-run and John Trevelyan of ‘Blue Book’ fame represented us, we no longer had the full backing of West Sussex Council and we lost. The diversion is now in place and Charles Pearson, Lord Cowdray’s half-brother is renovating his mansion.

After he retired from work, Denis moved from Godalming to Elstead, where he gave dedicated service to the people of the village, most notably as chairman of the parish council for twelve years. He was also chairman of the local horticultural society at the time of his death.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017