Edgar Powell, our vice-president and local correspondent for Worcestershire and part of Herefordshire, has retired from Worcestershire Local Access Forum (LAF) on which he has served for ten years, six of them as chairman.
The LAF made a presentation to Edgar on 14 March. Its chairman, Gerry Taggart, paid tribute to him:
‘The LAF was created in 2003 and Edgar was elected as its first chairman. He did two three-year stints. In the early days he put in a huge amount of work for the LAF. The LAF was something completely new, albeit with guidance notes provided by the government. So Edgar was instrumental in drawing up procedures to be followed.
‘He is an expert in all things connected with rights of way and commons and his sage, considered and accurate advice to the LAF has been much appreciated over the years. He has also been the main instrument of training; having given a series of lectures over the years to the LAF, most recently on commons.
‘Since standing down as chairman, he has remained a key member of the forum. We shall miss Edgar’s presence as a wise and experienced guiding hand. As we all come from different directions we have not always agreed with him.
‘While employed in a senior managerial role in a local engineering firm, he regularly devoted much of his leisure time to volunteer work to improve the state of the network in both Worcestershire and Herefordshire. Edgar worked for the county council, initially in public rights of way and later in bridgeworks where he was able to put his engineering knowledge to good use.
‘Edgar’s wife Audrey is a constant support and help to him; they are very much a team.’
Adds Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘Edgar has been OSS local correspondent in Worcestershire for 20 years and a vice-president for many years too.
‘Nationally, he played a significant role in seeing off the deplorable path-rationalisation scheme involving about 100 paths in Ombersley and surrounding parishes. The campaign lasted for 15 years, from 1982 to 1997. Edgar, in his typically methodical and careful way, studied each proposal and helped and advised the OSS and Ramblers in their opposition. He dubbed the scheme “OMRATS”.
‘He put in a huge amount of time and effort. It was nationally important as the only scheme of such a scale and nastiness and, thanks to his efforts and those of others, it foundered and was dropped completely – but if it had succeeded it would have been replicated throughout the country, causing mayhem to the path network and huge anxiety and work for the user groups.
‘Edgar is always ready to help others, and act as mentor and adviser, give talks, attend meetings and speak at public inquiries. He is courageous and fearless, and immensely kind and generous – nothing is too much effort in support of the cause. We regularly send work his way and he never complains and gives his time freely. He has acquired an immense legal and technical knowledge which he is always ready to pass on.
‘He is a national treasure!’