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A tribute to Sir John Johnson KCMG (1930 – 2018)

12 November 2018

Sir John, as he was always called, both out of courtesy and affection, was a passionate champion of the Chiltern Hills. Home, after a career in the diplomatic service, was Old Amersham, the ideal base from which to explore the Chilterns of which there was no part he did not know intimately. 

He was the first chairman of the Chilterns Conservation Board (2004 -2010) having been chairman of its precursor, the so-called Shadow Board from 2001. Prior to that he had been vice chairman of the Chilterns Conference since 1995. All the while he had been a Vice President of The Chiltern Society. Nobody was more involved in the conservation of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or more enthusiastic about encouraging local people and visitors to enjoy it. We could not have wished for a better champion, leader, mentor and friend.

Sir John Nov 02
Sir John Johnson KCMG (1930 – 2018)

Sir John hailed from Manchester where he attended the Grammar School and then went up to Keble College, Oxford. A long and distinguished career followed as a diplomat including appointments as High Commissioner in Zambia and his beloved Kenya, for which he was knighted. As a lifelong walker who completed all the Munros he was an ideal choice as chairman of the Countryside Commission (1991 -1995). It was during his tenure that he took a direct interest in the well-being of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty then considered forgotten Cinderella's to the better-known National Parks. Stemming from that time all AONBs now have staff, overseeing organisations and much enhanced funding; it’s little wonder he was held in such high esteem across the country by all those who knew what a difference he had made.

He always found time for his Chilterns’ duties despite holding a raft of honorary positions which included President of the Long Distance Walker’s Association and The Friends of the Lake District, vice president of the Youth Hostels Association and, most importantly to him, The Chiltern Society.  

He will be sadly missed but his legacy is enormous and will be long lasting for which we, residents, visitors and lovers of The Chiltern Hills, will remember him fondly and with enormous gratitude.

Steve Rodrick
Ret’d Chief Officer (1994- 2015)
Chilterns Conservation Board

Chilterns AONB Photography Competition - Finalists revealed

08 November 2018

Now's the chance to vote for your favourite images - just follow the link to the online poll.

A review of the Chilterns AONB Management Plan 2019-24

23 October 2018

Have your say on the future of the Chilterns AONB as we publish the AONB Draft Management Plan 2019-2024 for consultation. 

Glover Review of Designated Landscapes – Call for Evidence Launch

22 October 2018

Julian Glover wants to hear your views as he gathers evidence for the Designated Landscapes Review 

Swire Ridgeway Arts Prize announced

16 October 2018

The Friends of the Ridgeway are delighted to announce that the Swire Ridgeway Arts Prize will again be held in April 2019.

Chilterns Photography Competition - Let's Get Started!

02 October 2018

Where to find some inspiration for your masterpiece...

Beacons of the Past - Our first e-Newsletter, Autumn 2018

28 September 2018

Download our Autumn 2018 Beacons of the Past newsletter, with information about new volunteering opportunities

National Lottery awards £164,300 Resilient Heritage grant to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

28 September 2018

The National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) has received
Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) support in the form of a £164,300 Resilient Heritage grant.

Recycle Week 2018

25 September 2018

Find out what's happening in the Chilterns this week to promote recycling

The Iron Age was brought to life at the launch of our exciting Beacons of the Past project

24 September 2018

Beacons of the Past was officially launched on Saturday 15th September, with a fantastic celebration held at Desborough Castle Park, High Wycombe. The event started at 3.30pm and attracted over 100 participants including volunteers and local residents. Mayor Sarafaz Khan Raja and Councillor Mohammed Hanif were also amongst our visitors, hosted by CCB Chairman Ian Reay and Chief Officer Sue Holden. 


The Iron Age was brought to life with a variety of demonstrations that featured typical skills and methods familiar to Iron Age people. Kim Biddulph was our very own Beacons' Master Chef, presenting her cooking along with samples of bread, butter, cheese and more - all made with prehistoric techniques and ingredients, of course. Will Mills demonstrated flint tool making techniques, and David Willis taught prehistoric bushcraft using nettles and other plants to make string and rope.


Visitors witnessed the first prehistoric furnace at Desborough Castle since... well we may find out later in the project! But in the meantime, we were treated to a copper smelting demonstration by Dr Peter Hommel who also cast replica coin and brooch pieces in pewter - remarkable skills and techniques that definitely brought insight into Iron Age capability.

Steph Rodgers from Chiltern Rangers hosted a 'build-a-box' workshop which attracted lots of younger visitors to create an array of brightly decorated boxes; these will be positioned in and around Desborough Castle and Castlefield woods. There was also Iron Age 'Celtic' facepainting by Jen Quille and, as a result, a good many colourful young faces running around!


Alison Doggett, board member of CCB delivered a wonderful speech describing how the idea for Beacons of the Past first came about in early 2013, and remembering the tremendous effort and determination shown not least by Shirley Judges, previously a CCB board member herself who tragically died in 2014. Dr Wendy Morrison, our unstoppably enthusiastic archaeologist who heads up the Beacons project, welcomed local residents to their very own hillfort at Desborough Castle, and outlined the exciting opportunities ahead for volunteers and enthusiasts.

Following the speeches, two beacons were lit - one on Desborough Castle and the other on West Wycombe Hill. Once the sun had faded in the West, visitors were treated to the sight of the West Wycombe beacon from Desborough Castle.


An amazing launch but only the first of many Beacons events coming up. See you at the next one!

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