When the Trustees of Surrey Hills Society started thinking about ways of celebrating the 60th anniversary of the AONB and the 10th birthday of the Society, our vice-chairman, Ken Bare, suggested that we produce a book recording how the AONB came about and how it had changed over 60 years. Once he had agreed to be the primary researcher and author, with Diane Cooper (our PR & Communications lead) acting as editor, the project gained its own momentum. The book had to be written!
We discovered that we could apply for an HLF grant and, fortunately, they decided to give us the full £6000 that it would cost to design, print and distribute 4000 copies of the book. In exchange we agreed to match this with volunteer labour doing all the work. Several hundred man-hours later we have reached launch – so a big Thank-you to HLF for underpinning the project.
What we were aiming to achieve was a product which would act as a legacy to the anniversaries but, just as importantly, would support our Societies aims of promoting and protecting the AONB. We think we have achieved that goal in that the book is informative whilst being an easy read.
Part of the research involved interviews with a number of farmers, foresters, landowners, planners and so on. We give a very special Thank-you to them – not only for sharing their wealth of knowledge with Ken but for taking time out of their busy lives to welcome him into their homes and offices. A key message that came back from all of them was that the AONB designation was very important – and that the work of the Society is pivotal in helping the general public to understand more about their wonderful Surrey Hills and hence why they need to look after them.
And that is where the book starts to do its work. ‘The Surrey Hills – Our Changing Landscape’ book was launched on 8 May 2018 at Speaker’s House, within the Palace of Westminster as part of a high profile reception to mark the actual 60th anniversary. In front of an influential audience, Ken launched the book and copies were given to each of the attendees.
The rest of the 4000 will be distributed widely. Each of our memberships will receive copies as will all local councillors – from County to Parish level – to help them in their decision making. The remainder will be distributed to the general public at events including the Surrey County Show and various other talks, fetes and so on. We’ve also been working with the local media – who have been very receptive and are helping with promotion of the book and the anniversaries.
Additional copies can be obtained via the “Shop” page of our web site.