LEADING campaigner in the fight to set up a new South Downs National Park, Margaret Paren, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year honours list.
Mrs Paren, who became the first chairman of the new national park authority when it was set up in April 2010, played a leading role in the long battle for the new authority as a member of the South Downs Joint Committee and vice-chairman of the South Downs Campaign.
Mrs Paren devoted much of her time to preparing the case for setting up the national park and was a leading figure in persuading the inspector to include the Western Weald inside the boundary of the new park. The Independent on Sunday recently named Mrs Paren as one of the top 50 Great Britons for her ‘expertise and local knowledge’ which were ‘instrumental in making the case for the park’.
Mrs Paren said: “It has been a great privilege to see the South Downs National Park come into being and continue to go from strength to strength. I am proud to have been able to share my passion for the South Downs with the many other people who live in, work in and enjoy England’s newest national park.
“It is, of course, an honour to be awarded an OBE and I am delighted. However, I see this as a reflection not just of my efforts, but of those of all the members and officers who have worked so hard to ensure the best possible start for the park.
“I also want to pay tribute to all our partners and stakeholders for their support and contribution.”
Commenting on her appointment, South Downs National Park Authority chief executive Richard Shaw said: “Margaret has worked tirelessly to bring the South Downs National Park into being.
“The OBE is a recognition both of her remarkable personal efforts and of the work of so many others dedicated to the sustainable future of the South Downs.”