Eversley Award for Outstanding Personal Endeavour.

The prestigious Eversley Award for Outstanding Personal Endeavour is presented on an occasional basis to individuals for exceptional achievement, typically lifetime or long-term work, in the protection of commons, greens, paths and access.

The Award is named after Lord Eversley, the distinguished founder of the society in 1865, and for many years its president and chairman.

Peter Newman 

Peter Newman (left) receiving his award from former OSS chairman Graham Bathe (right). Photo: OSS

Peter was the first recipient of the Eversley Award in 2016. He won the award for his 25 years of work on public paths with offenders on Community Payback. Peter collaborated with the Herefordshire Probation Service and Herefordshire Council to install about 800 stiles and gates, waymarks and fingerposts, and many notice-boards and footbridges, in 16 parishes in north-west Herefordshire.

Peter said: ‘I am surprised and delighted to have been given this award. I am grateful to all the young and not-so-young offenders, who worked alongside me on the path network over the years, and without whom and the support of the Hereford probation office, this scheme would never have happened.’


Chris Beney 

Phil Wadey (left) presents the Eversley Award to Chris Beney. Photo: OSS

Chris received the Eversley Award in 2022. Chris has devoted over 30 years to the protection of commons, greens, paths and access. In addition to the work he has done for the OSS, he chaired the British Standards Panel for three revisions of BS5709, obtaining agreement from users, local authorities and land managers for the changes made, including the shift from a technical specification to one requiring the least restrictive method of achieving any lawful interference. In turn that has been incorporated into public path orders and various gate or stile authorisations by local authorities, so facilitating the improvement of paths across England and Wales.

He has also been a local pioneer in encouraging landowners to dedicate their land for access, and to provide additional benefits. The highlight of his work, however, has been that he has been able to reach agreement among the diverse and conflicting interests of landowners, users, councillors, and officials. His way of dealing with people has made him able to negotiate difficult subjects well, and with resulting success.

Chris said: ‘It was a lovely surprise to be the recipient of the rarely-made Eversley Award. I had always admired the Open Spaces Society with its long and distinguished history and somehow I got involved, not just as a trustee but as a local correspondent in Hertfordshire, and as their representative for the British Standards path-structure work. Now, only a few months from my 90th birthday, I have slowed down a lot.  So this Eversley Award is a very timely boost and much appreciated.’

Ian Witham 

Ian was the 2023 recipient of the Eversley Award. Ian has served as our local correspondent in Norfolk since 1999. During this time, he has quietly and effectively worked for all our interests, saving paths from diversion and extinguishment, taking the council to court over a missing footbridge, rescuing commons from encroachment and winning a new village green.

He continues to assist members in the county and devotes much of his spare time to our endeavours. Ian has had to stand up to a recalcitrant county council in a predominantly rural area, dominated by landowning interests and large estates. He always acts in a principled and pragmatic manner, unafraid to be a lone voice. He does not allow the criticism of others to deter him and he courageously champions our cause in the face of opposition.

Those who enjoy public access in Norfolk have Ian to thank for making it a better experience, and we were delighted to be able to recognise Ian’s tireless hard work by presenting him with the Eversley Award at our 2023 AGM.

Receive the latest news to your inbox

Sign up to our monthly eZine to stay up to date with news, views, and more from the Open Spaces Society. Signing up takes less than two minutes.