Ringwood & Fordingbridge Footpath Society celebrates 50th anniversary

Support us from £3/month

We deal with almost 1000 cases a year assisting communities, groups and individuals in protecting their local spaces and paths in all parts of England and Wales. Can you help us by joining as a member?

‘The Ringwood & Fordingbridge Footpath Society (RFFS) is a vital eyes and ears on the ground in this part of Hampshire, adjacent to the New Forest.’  So said Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary, speaking at the lunch in Ibsley to celebrate the RFFS’s 50th anniversary on Saturday (18 May).

‘The RFFS has been a member of the OSS for most of its existence, and we have valued the symbiotic relationship, with the RFFS providing intelligence and local knowledge about path and access issues, and the OSS giving national insight and support.

‘It is more essential than ever that we defend our paths from obstruction, neglect, and development and the role of RFFS in opposing anti-public path changes and undertaking practical work to improve paths and keep them open is significant.’

Lord Eversley’s seat on Hightown Common. Photo: Open Spaces Society

Kate paid special tribute to founder and president Rowan Brockhurst, who served as the society’s local correspondent for the New Forest district from 1986 to 2003.  ‘Rowan has spearheaded many campaigns and was instrumental in the creation of the Avon Valley Path between Salisbury and the sea at Christchurch,’ said Kate.

‘He was responsible for rescuing the seat in memory of the OSS’s founder, Lord Eversley, on Hightown Common, moving it further from the A31 and arranging for its refurbishment [1].  This was typical of his persistence and attention to detail which has been of such value to the RFFS.’

‘With paths and access under threat of development, and local authorities facing austerity, the efforts of local campaigning organisations such as RFFS in defending our rights increases in importance’, said Kate.  ‘All strength to the RFFS for the next 50 years.’

[1] When the OSS founder, Lord Eversley, died in 1928 the society bought Hightown Common in his memory, to save it from development, and gave it to the National Trust, together with a memorial seat designed by architect Elisabeth Scott.  When the A31 was widened in the 1960s, the seat (which was close to the road) fell into disrepair.  In the 1990s Rowan Brockhurst led the campaign to move it away from the road and refurbish it, and in 2010 again arranged for its refurbishment.


Join the discussion


Posted in ,