New chair and vice chairs for Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership

 In AONB updates
Bruce Payne, management group chair

Bruce Payne, management group chair

Not many years ago I didn’t know what AONB stood for. On realising that I’d moved to live on the edge of one I set out to find out what it was all about. So, from a standing start and as a result of an excellent apprenticeship working with the AONB team, I now find myself as the chair of the Blackdown Hills AONB partnership management group. A daunting prospect.

My apprenticeship comprised a range of activities, generally stepping in where either my own expertise in business management or my love of the outdoors could be helpful. Over time these activities have encompassed quite a spectrum, at one level working on the development of the AONB management plan and business plans, then literally getting my feet wet on various volunteering sorties including surveys of otters, crayfish and adders.

I served as vice-chair for a number of years, learning from the excellent leadership of Paul Diviani who held the position of chair for many years, and I recognise is a hard act to follow. Now as chair my aim is to build on Paul’s legacy and continue to develop the wide area of influence he enjoyed with the National Association for AONBs and many local organisations, not least the adjacent AONBs. I will also continue my close working relationship with the Blackdown Hills AONB team (led by Tim Youngs), engaging with a range of projects, serving on steering groups and, wherever possible, volunteering hands-on. There are many excellent projects in progress, two that I am particularly involved with are Connecting the Culm and Somerset Nature Connections.

On my appointment I have been especially fortunate to have support from not one but two vice-chairs and, between the three of us, I believe we have an excellent set of complementary skills. Bob Nelson and John Greenshields are both chairs of their parish councils. We wondered at our recent meeting what a collective noun could be for chairs – any suggestions? Bob represents the Blackdown Hills Parish Network on the Blackdown Hills AONB partnership management group and brings compelling organisation and business skills to bear. John’s farm lies in the shadow of the Wellington Monument and he has invested a lot of time and energy to support the refurbishment which is nearing completion. Amongst other project and community activities, he is a leading light in the Saving Devon Treescapes project seeking to counter the issues with ash dieback.

Bob Nelson, vice chair

Bob Nelson, vice chair

John Greenshields, vice chair

John Greenshields, vice chair


About the Blackdown Hills AONB partnership management group

The new chair and vice chairs will serve for two years from November 2020. They are nominated and elected by the partnership management group.

Next year’s management group meeting dates are as follows (venues to be confirmed)

  • Thursday, 4 March 2021
  • Thursday, 1 July 2021
  • Thursday, 4 November 2021

Members of the public are welcome to attend the AONB partnership management group meetings as observers. There is an agenda item at each meeting where members of the public can ask questions about the work of the AONB and the projects we’re involved with.

If you have a question please contact Blackdown Hills AONB office at least two working days before the date of the meeting. However, any questions received after this or at the meeting that cannot be answered immediately will be responded to within two weeks.

More about the Blackdown Hills AONB partnership management group

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