Royal reception for Peak District's outstanding volunteers

This is an archived press release

Friday 24 February 2012

Volunteers who have given many years outstanding service to the Peak District National Park will be treated to a royal reception with HRH the Prince of Wales today (Fri Feb 24).

Ten Peak District National Park Authority volunteer rangers whose combined service to the national park would stretch back 430 years to the reign of Elizabeth I are among those to be presented to the Prince at medieval Haddon Hall, near Bakewell.

Alongside them will be volunteers who regularly record wildlife or archaeological sites, do conservation work, or support activities such as climbing, Duke of Edinburgh award schemes or access for black and minority ethnic communities.

Other volunteers have led community building and restoration projects, or food and farming initiatives will also meet the Prince, along with staff from Haddon Hall.

Ian Milne, who celebrates 50 years voluntary service with the Peak District National Park Authority this year, is one of the longest-serving volunteer rangers in the country. Ian, a 71-year-old retired engineer from Marple, started ranger-training in 1962 when he moved down from his native Dundee.

“I was already an experienced mountaineer, and I’d been involved in mountain rescues in Scotland,” said Ian. “Although I loved being an engineer, rangering at weekends took me out of the grime and oil and smoke.”

One of his earliest memories is of a tragedy in 1964 when three young Rover Scouts on the Four Inns Walk died in a blizzard on Bleaklow.

“I was on the team that found one of them in the snow, it was very sad,” said Ian. “But good came out of it - it led to the formation of mountain rescue teams in the Peak District. I and other rangers became heavily involved in that and I became a team leader in Edale, though now they are run entirely separately from the rangers.”

His mountain rescue training included expeditions to the Arctic from 1975 to 1988. Among Ian’s other outstanding memories are of moorland firefighting – “I remember one blaze in the 1970s when we lived up on Bleaklow for three days, trying to control the flames. Nowadays the fire services and rangers run the Fire Operations Group with moorland owners to co-ordinate firefighting, but in those days we didn’t have the specialist equipment they have now.”

Ian also worked during foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in 1967 and 2001 when movements were restricted across the countryside. Lately he has been involved in moorland conservation work with the Moors for the Future Partnership, guiding helicopters where to drop their bulk loads of heather cuttings, seeds and fertiliser.

“The comradeship is tremendous and I enjoy the work,” said Ian, who does all this while coping with diabetes and coeliac disease. “I do a lot of fitness training in order to do it and I’ll carry on as long as I’m physically able.”

Apart from rangering, Ian does voluntary work with the British Red Cross as a wheelchair mechanic, and for the Anson Engine Museum in Poynton.

His nine colleagues with more than 40 years service who will also line up to meet the Prince are: Austin Plant from Stanton-in-the-Peak; Dave Tryner, from Matlock; Margaret Anderson, Peter Draycott, Jack Elmore and Derek Styring, all from Sheffield; Peter Jackson, from Glossop; Gavin Fay, from Haydock, Merseyside and Doug Kirwen, of Leeds.

Two more rangers who have completed 40 years service could not attend – John Peaker and Don Wilson. 

This is an archived press release

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