Former long-serving Northumberland National Park Authority chairman, John Riddle, has been awarded the OBE in the 2016 New Year Honours List.
John’s OBE is awarded in recognition of his outstanding services to Northumberland National Park Authority. He took on the role of chairman of Northumberland National Park Authority in June 2001 and served in this capacity with distinction for 14 years - the longest of any chairman of an English National Park.
John always championed the involvement of young people throughout his period of leadership; since 2009, he led the Authority in the development of The Sill (the UK’s first Landscape Discovery Centre), a primary aim of which is to engage young people from all communities with our landscapes.
Commenting on the award, John Riddle said: "I feel very privileged to accept this honour for my work in the community and with Northumberland National Park. We are all fortunate to work in this uniquely beautiful landscape and to have our efforts recognised is of course very gratifying. I would like to thank those who put their trust in me by allowing me to lead the Park Authority for so many years. 2016 sees the 60th anniversary of the creation of Northumberland National Park so this is a wonderful way to begin such a special year."
John lives with his family at Blakelaw Farm, Bellingham, where he has worked as a hill farmer all his life. John first became involved in the leadership of his community at an early age as chairman of the Young Farmers’ Club and has been a county councillor on Northumberland County Council for 27 years. Beyond Northumberland, John has made a significant contribution to National Parks across the UK. He served as chairman of National Parks England and three times as chairman of National Parks UK, where he was particularly distinguished for forging links between the National Parks and the business community.
Tony Gates, chief executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “To represent the day-to-day needs of England’s most rural communities, whilst at the same time helping lead national - and in some cases international – innovative practice in National Park management is a remarkable contribution to British society.
"John has, I believe, brought distinction to public service and to British life. There has surely never been a more exciting time for Northumberland National Park in our 60 year history and I am immensely proud of John’s contribution. Over the many years that I have known him, John has always given generously of his time and has juggled the role of full time hill farmer, county councillor and National Park chairman in exemplary fashion. I know he will accept this great honour with customary humility but it is richly deserved and it’s my pleasure to congratulate him on it."