The Wye Valley AONB has benefited hugely from Simon Dereham’s measured and influential contributions to the Wye Valley AONB Joint Advisory Committee for nearly 35 years’ from 1983 to 2017, so we were thrilled to learn that Simon's work had been recognised with a national Landscapes for Life Award. Given to people who have contributed 20 years or more to the conservation and enhancement of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), the award bestows national recognition and gratitude for the work recipients have given to their AONB partnerships. Simon has been immensely supportive of the AONB Partnership and the work of the AONB Unit. His connections with the local farmers and landowners has been invaluable to the success of many AONB initiatives.
As chair the River Wye Preservation Trust Simon championed a number of AONB projects, most notably the Landscape Origins of the Wye Valley, a three year project which brought together an enthusiastic group of volunteers who were advised and trained by experts in archaeology, local history and landscape analysis. Traditional and modern methods were used, from simple field walking to the latest geophysics, from local history research to deciphering Latin manuscripts, and from oral history to aerial photography. Previously unknown sites were investigated, locally sourced archives and maps were digitally recorded and comprehensive surveys were undertaken which led to new discoveries and a better understanding of the process of change from the remote past to the present day. Volunteers also surveyed nearly 500 veteran trees and over 50km of the river bank by canoe. A book about the project was published in October 2008 which credited over 100 people involved in the project. Simon's legacy will also be seen in the 2018 Wye Valley River Festival. Simon sat on both the Steering Group and the Finance Committee during the research and development phase of the inaugural Wye Valley River Festival in May 2014.
A partnership between the AONB Unit, Ross-on-Wye Town Council and Natural England have started tree management work on the banks of the Wye where it passes through Ross, to benefit biodiversity and create river views.
If you are 14-18 years old and love exploring the countryside of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, then the Wye Valley AONB Youth Ranger programme is looking for you! Come along to our Taster Day on September 30th.