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Countryside Ranger wins 2014 Pendlebury Award

A man who has encouraged scores of people to look after the landscape of the North Pennines has been announced as this year’s winner of The Pendlebury Award.

Dave Liddle, who was a Countryside Ranger with Durham County Council (DCC), for over 20 years, was ‘overwhelmed’ when he received the award, which recognises people who have made significant contributions to landscape of the North Pennines, at a ceremony last week.

Dave with AONB Chairman, Cllr Eddie Tomlinson (left) and Chris Woodley-Stewart

Dave with AONB Chairman, Cllr Eddie Tomlinson (left) and Chris Woodley-Stewart

Dave, who retired from the post last year but continues to dedicate hours to looking after the area he loves, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits. I honestly thought I had no chance against all the other nominees, who’ve all done so much for our countryside. I thought I was just here to make up the numbers.”

The Pendlebury Award was established in 2013 by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership. It was named after the Partnership’s first chairman, Bob Pendlebury, who worked tirelessly to promote and conserve the special qualities of the area.

Dave, who was once Bob’s milkman, said: “I know how dedicated Bob was so to be classed in the same league as him is very flattering. I’m honoured.”

During his time as a Countryside Ranger Dave, who lives in Waskerley, County Durham, was a key player in the development of several successful working partnerships that came together to carry out landscape-based conservation projects.

He also won an award from Butterfly Conservation after he initiated a project which monitors pearl-bordered fritillaries, a species that is facing extinction.

During the lifetime of the project Dave has worked with countless volunteers and school children to help give the species, which is the rarest in the region, a fighting chance.

Maria Murphy, Countryside Development Officer with DCC, who nominated Dave for The Pendlebury Award, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that he won. I’ve never known anyone as committed as Dave. He lives for his butterflies and his dedication shines through. He has a lovely, cheeky way about him which makes people want to work alongside him.”

“I’ve worked with Dave for ten years and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him speechless. Just before the winner was announced, he leaned across and whispered “I’m just here to make up the numbers” – I don’t think he realises the extent of what he’s done or how much people appreciate it. Hopefully now he has an idea.”

The award was presented at the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Annual Forum, which was held at Bowlees Visitor Centre, in Upper Teesdale, to coincide with the celebrations marking a year since the site’s reopening. It was presented to him by last year’s inaugural recipient, botanist Margaret Bradshaw and Cllr Eddie Tomlinson, the current Chairman of the AONB Partnership.

Other nominees for the award were Dr Rob Young, Historic Environment Officer with English Heritage; Susie White who is an active volunteer with the AONB Partnership’s WildWatch project and Guardian Country Diary writer; Sonia Kempsey, Chair of the Alston Moor Partnership and Brian Young, geologist and author of Mineralisation of England and Wales.

Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the AONB Partnership, said: “Dave is a great man who really works hard to galvanise others to help look after the North Pennines, and the whole of the North East.

“His enthusiasm is infectious and despite retiring last year, he doesn’t seem to have slowed down at all. I can’t think of a more worthy recipient.”

North Pennines

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