An independent voice and a forum for debate for those who find Dartmoor a source of livelihood or inspiration

Committee Articles

Thank you to former Committee members

Posted in Committee on Thursday 19th May 2022 at 9:44pm

Thank you to retiring Committee member Wilf Hodges, and to Liz Miall and Chris Chapman who, whilst no longer on the Committee, continue to advise and work on our behalf.

Wilf Hodges has been our Membership Secretary for six years. This has been a time of technical change and greater demands in relation to data protection and regulatory compliance. Wilf has undertaken a great deal of work to keep us up-to-date with current regulations and has introduced improved ways of communicating with members and handling data. We are grateful to him for the work he has put in over the years and in the cheerful, professional way he interacts with members. This involves answering queries, ensuring that subscriptions are paid and keeping members of the Committee informed about new and existing members.

Liz Miall has been a member of the Dartmoor Society Committee for over 10 years and is our representative on the Peatland Partnership. Liz has attended the Partnership meetings and expressed our views and concerns there and on site visits. She has comprehensively briefed the Dartmoor Society Committee and kept a watchful eye on the ground during the seasonal ‘restoration’ work.

We are grateful to Chris Chapman for his continued support and commitment to the Dartmoor Society. Whilst he is no longer on the Committee, we value and benefit from his expertise and his insights, the result of over 50 years spent observing Dartmoor and its people. We are lucky to be able to draw on his extensive catalogue of Dartmoor photographs.

Back to top

Alan Endacott and Peter Beacham © Mike Rego
Photo: Mike Rego

Alan Endacott steps down as Vice Chair of the Dartmoor Society

Posted in Committee on Thursday 19th May 2022 at 9:30pm

Members gathered at South Brent Village Hall on Saturday 7 May as Alan Endacott gave his final address as Vice Chair.

Society President Peter Beacham along with newly-elected Chair Bill Murray and Secretary Caya Edwards paid warm tribute to Alan for the contribution he has made, giving the Society direction and leadership for 3 years whilst the position of Chair has been vacant. 

The Dartmoor Society has benefited from his wide-ranging knowledge of historic landscapes and their management. As an archaeologist, he has an understanding of Dartmoor’s sensitive archaeological landscapes. He was the founder and the first curator of the Museum of Dartmoor life and has an extensive knowledge of local traditions, artefacts and farming. During his tenure as Vice Chair he has stayed focused on the positive ways that the society can contribute to the wellbeing of Dartmoor.

Alan’s ability to communicate and negotiate has resulted in stronger ties with key Dartmoor organisations. The 2021 conference: ‘Hallowed Turf: Perspectives on the conservation of Dartmoor's blanket peat’, was initiated by Alan because it provided an opportunity for people to hear more about the current peatland restoration work on the high moor and the science underpinning it, as well as to question those involved. Although the Dartmoor Society is critical of many aspects of peat restoration, by taking a neutral stance and providing a platform for debate, it gave everyone a chance to make their own judgements and gain a greater understanding of the various perspectives and views from those actually involved.

Alan has an eye on the long and short-term impacts of change. During the height of the Covid pandemic he wrote to the BBC emphasising the huge environmental pressures that TV and radio programmes can cause by encouraging visitors to vulnerable landscapes.

Responding to press reports in 2020, Alan investigated the claim that Natural England required all sheep to be removed from Okehampton Commons over the winter. This was typical of Alan’s style, to broker constructive, face-to-face negotiations, and it was his decision to follow this up and ask Natural England’s Eamon Crowe to speak at the 2021 AGM that resulted in frank feedback and debate. 

Alan’s legacy has been to forge closer ties with other Dartmoor organisations and engender a greater understanding of differing viewpoints.  He recognises that land management issues stem from a range of different perspectives depending on whether you are a farmer, ecologist, archaeologist, whether you earn your living on Dartmoor or want to simply enjoy its landscapes.

In September 2021 the Dartmoor Society visited Elvan Farm, the land his father farmed. During this visit Alan was delighted to be able to demonstrate exemplary stewardship by farmer Steve Alford where farming and wildlife co-exist. 

Alan’s leadership has pressed home the point that this landscape is vulnerable to the whims of the policy-makers of successive governments. He has reaffirmed the Dartmoor Society’s role as scrutineers of legislation or policies that might have a detrimental impact on the moor or its communities.

In his own words, ‘Dartmoor’s place as one of northern Europe’s finest cultural landscapes seems to be frequently played down and its cultural vulnerability ignored. What we have is unique and amazing, let’s celebrate and learn from it!’.

Back to top

Bill Murray © Mike Rego
Photo: Mike Rego

The Dartmoor Society welcomes Bill Murray as its new Chair and Nick Fennemore as Vice Chair

Posted in Committee on Thursday 19th May 2022 at 9:15pm

We are delighted to announce Bill Murray as our new Chair of Trustees. Bill is a leading figure in the Dartmoor music scene and was the recipient of the Dartmoor Society Award in 2011 for ‘nurturing the craft of Dartmoor song’ – and for keeping alive the tradition of unaccompanied singing. He was elected at the our AGM on 7 May.

Bill has been a member for many years and has served on the Dartmoor Society committee since last year when he became events organiser, immediately injecting fresh new ideas into our events programme.

He has been performing songs and telling stories, learned from an older generation of singers and storytellers, for over 50 years. You can hear him at our event in October with Jim Causely. He is at home on the north-eastern slopes of Dartmoor but he has been on radio and TV many times and he is also a founder member of the Dartmoor Folk Festival.

The performer is just one side of this Dartmoor enthusiast. His family farming connections keep him well-versed in the issues that face local farmers and the ways that they must adapt to the demands of changing land management issues. He takes an interest in the wellbeing of all aspects of Dartmoor, its people and its wild places. He has contacts far and wide and is proactive in getting out and discussing matters with those who make decisions about Dartmoor’s future.

Joining him as Vice Chair is Nick Fennemore, former NHS Chaplain and Minor Canon of Winchester Cathedral, now living in Chagford. He is no stranger to Dartmoor: he has been visiting for over 60 years and has now been able to accomplish a lifetime ambition to live here!

He has an interest in all things to do with Dartmoor, with a knowledge of flora and fauna, church buildings and the spiritual aspects of the moor.

Bill and Nick are joined on the committee by new members Bridget Cole, Anthea Hoey and Rachel van der Steen.

Back to top

Barrie Quilliam receives a framed Chris Chapman photograph

Thanks to Barrie Quilliam for long-standing service on the Dartmoor Society committee

Posted in Committee on Tuesday 31st August 2021 at 9:42pm

The AGM provided an opportunity to present former committee member Barrie Quilliam with a framed photograph of Week Down Cross by Chris Chapman.

It was good to see Barrie again and we were so pleased to be able to thank him for his involvement over many years. We miss his good humour and all of his help, not least his work on the bookstall at our indoor events.

Back to top

Note: The copyright of the articles on this page belongs to The Dartmoor Society (unless otherwise stated).