This is an archived press release
Tuesday 16 August 2005
16 August 2005
Longest serving ranger celebrates 35 years in the Peaks
A school trip to the Peak District sowed the seeds of a lifelong career for the National Park's longest serving ranger.
Chesterfield-born Ian Hurst, 62, has just celebrated 35 years of looking after the countryside and introducing people to the environment he first explored with his school rambling club.
"It was on Kinder where I decided to become a ranger," he said. "I saw a man standing on a rock, he was wearing the warden's armband which they did in those days, he seemed so at home in that beautiful landscape, and I thought, that's what I want to be."
Ian initially joined as a volunteer in 1963, became a full-time ranger in 1970 at Crowden in Longdendale, near Glossop, and has contributed to various milestones in the National Park's history ever since.
He helped set up the Monsal Trail on the former Buxton to Matlock railway line, he started the Millers Dale ranger station, and he was a main organiser of the 70th anniversary commemorations of the Mass Trespass on Kinder in the 1930s, which led to the opening of vast stretches of moorland for public access.
As chair and controller of Buxton Mountain Rescue team he has received chief constable's commendations for hundreds of rescues - of both people and animals. With another long serving ranger, Tony Hood, he was commended by the RSPCA for rescuing a ewe and lamb from cliffs in Water-cum-Jolly Dale - twice.
Now based at Hayfield, one of his abiding memories is of the 1976 drought, which caused more than 80 moorland fires in the northern Peak District. "We were fighting fires solidly for three months," he said. "I'd get up at 6am every day and not get home till 9 at night. To say it was exhausting is an understatement."
Nowadays, partly as a result of such experiences, the Fires Operations Group is on standby with specialist equipment to cope much more quickly with similar occurrences. Ian has also been an adviser to the Countryside Commission.
Like many National Park rangers, he is highly qualified, with an MSc in environmental resources. A father of three and grandfather of six, he and his wife, Zan, live in Buxton.
National Park director of recreation and education John Thompson said: "Ian's work for 35 years has been outstanding. Now our longest serving ranger, his commitment to the National Park and all it stands for has been immense and much appreciated. We thank Ian wholeheartedly for all he has done for the National Park."