At the BMC AGM on Saturday, Henry Folkard and Dave Bishop, two of the BMC Access Team’s best-known activists, received the second George Band Award, given to BMC volunteers who have made an exceptional contribution to the organisation’s work.
Both men have been key players in the BMC’s access work in the Peak District for many years. Dave got involved when Kath Pyke, then Access Officer in Manchester, asked him to look into a possible ban on several gritstone crags being mooted by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, because of disturbance to nesting ring ouzels.
Thanks to Dave’s intervention, and a chance meeting with an old friend, common sense prevailed, and Dave is happy to report that relations with the SWT these days are cordial and pose no threat to access at the Roaches, where the SWT recently took over management.
A chance encounter also led to Henry Folkard’s involvement, now stretching back over 15 years. Retiring from the civil service in Sheffield, he moved out into the Peak District, where he bumped into Mike Hunt, then involved in the Peak Area, who persuaded him to volunteer.
Since then, like Dave, Henry has been involved in a plethora of issues, including ring ouzels, but also representing the BMC’s view over quarrying at Backdale and our interests on the Stanage Forum.
The recent decision by the Peak District National Park Authority to divest many of its landholding ‘assets’, including iconic climbing grounds like Froggatt, the Roaches and, potentially, Stanage, has seen their workload increase considerably. As Rab Carrington told the BMC while making the award, we have to be constantly vigilant to maintain access to our treasured climbing grounds.
Neil Foster, chair of the Peak Area Committee, said: “The Peak Area Meeting was extremely chuffed to learn that the tireless work of these two access legends had been recognised, and that Henry and Dave would be receiving this prestigious award. Judging by the reaction at Saturday’s BMC AGM, their reputation extends far beyond the Peak Area. The rapturous applause at the announcement and presentation was both memorable and fitting.”
Perhaps the greatest achievement Henry and Dave have contributed is the nurturing of a team of young activists equally committed to protecting the Peak District and keeping it accessible to climbers and hill walkers. Yet although both men say they are looking forward to stepping back from the fray, they still seem to be as busy as ever.
For more on how Henry and Dave became volunteers, read the latest Peak Area newsletter.