Posted on

The Richard Reed Award

The second of the Centenary prizes for academic work at Brighton University was awarded Thursday 5 October 2023 to Dom Jarvis, a Geography student, just starting his third and final year. Chairman David Sawyer and Paul Wilkinson were at Brighton University to present the Richard Reed Award, a newly created award, for most improved performance by a BSc/BA student in the department of Geography, Earth and Environment, based on results over 1st and 2nd years. The presentation took place in front of the final year class.  

The Richard Reed Award Friends of the South Downs

The Richard Reed Award is named after the Friends of the South Downs longest standing member who was not only Chairman three times but served the Society as a Trustee for an astonishing 59 years. The award is for the sum of £500 for the most improved performance by a BSc/BA student within Geography and Environmental Sciences/Management subjects. It is based on their academic results over their 1st & 2nd years. 

This is the inaugural year for the Richard Reed Award supported by the Friends of the South Downs.  

Dom Jarvis (centre) was presented with the award by Paul Wilkinson (right) Membership & Marketing Committee Chair for Friends of the South Downs and Dr Matthew Brolly (left), Principal Lecturer in Geography/Environmental Science.  

Dom is here to tell us about himself:

FSD: Tell us where you grew up, Dom.

DJ: I grew up in a town called Upminster in Essex.

FSD: What made you realise you wanted to study geography?

DJ: Firstly, I have to thank my secondary school Geography teachers, they really sparked my interest in the subject and managed to teach in a very engaging and fun way. Throughout school, Geography was always my favourite subject so that, combined with my love for beautiful landscapes, it was a no brainer. 

FSD: Why did you decide on Brighton Uni?

DJ: I decided on Brighton because of its diversity. Not sure if you have ever been to Essex but it has a stereotype and it is pretty accurate! Brighton has all different types of streets, shops and people so that was the primary pull factor. Essex is all the same old, same old…

FSD: You’ve been surrounded by the South Downs landscape for your time at Uni. What is your relationship with the Downs?

DJ: Having stayed in Varley Park accommodations for my first year of studies, Stanmer park was right across the road (literally) so that was my go-to green space for walks. I loved it. It has the perfect mix of open green space and dense forest to get lost in and it was great for my mental health when settling into university! I have also cycled to Devils Dyke with my friend and after some pretty serious incline, it was all worth it for the view! Cycling along the coastline also provides a great sense of relief with the views and salty wind hitting your face.

Richard Reed

We also caught up with Richard Reed.

FSD: Would you like to say anything about the recently awarded Richard Reed award?

RR: I was delighted to learn that Dom Jarvis had won the prize for the most improved performance.  The study of geography is an ideal way to appreciate the wonders of the world, not least our own South Downs.  I look forward to the Friends of the South Downs working closely with Brighton University to understand better our glorious landscape.

The Awards

The University awards were part of a spending programme for the Friends of the South Downs’ Centenary Year. The Trustees agreed a major programme of spending totalling over £100,000 in this year to benefit the Downs in the short term and the long term. The Friends can spend this money because they are fortunate to have recently received two substantial legacies.

You can help us make these legacies go even farther by supporting us. Consider joining us as a member, donating to our cause today or remembering us by creating a legacy.

Posted on

Our Centenary Year

Our Centenary year in 2023 provides a great opportunity to celebrate the South Downs and the role of the Friends of the South Downs, and to publicise what we do. To mark our Centenary year we are planning significant events and activities to celebrate the beginnings of the Society.

Seven Sisters from Cuckmere Haven Friends of the South Downs

It’s difficult to imagine a world in which people could build without restriction on a landscape of outstanding beauty, yet that is the threat that our predecessors faced almost 100 years ago.

After witnessing the construction of Peacehaven on the chalk cliffs to the west of the Ouse, our founder members feared what would happen to the rest of the eastern Downs in that time without effective planning controls.  To counter that threat they joined together in 1923 to form ‘a society for the preservation of the Downs’, which soon became the Society of Sussex Downsmen.  We later changed the name to the South Downs Society and are now known as the Friends of the South Downs.

Peacehaven our centenary year friends of the south downs

One spring day in 1923 on the chalk cliffs overlooking the Channel, two men, brothers-in-law, walking east from Brighton, were dismayed to come upon the new settlement of Peacehaven, developed on what was once downland. There was only rudimentary town planning in the 1920s and Peacehaven had been sold in plots, with no control over the dwellings to be built on them. It was no more than a shanty town.

Their day doubtless spoilt, Robert Thurston Hopkins and Captain Irvine Bately returned to their homes in Brighton resolved to try to prevent any further loss of the precious landscape of the Sussex Downs. Thurston Hopkins made contact with Gordon Volk. A committee was formed comprising Robert Thurston Hopkins, his wife Sybil, Captain Irvine Bately, his wife Lilian, and Gordon Volk. Volk then approached Arthur Beckett, a prominent newspaper owner. Beckett agreed to become President of the new society. Late in 1923, a crowded public meeting in the Royal Pavilion enthusiastically resolved to form a society for the preservation of the Downs.Excerpt from Richard Reed’s A Centenary History of the Friends of the South Downs.

The threats to the Downs may have changed over the last 100 years but we still remain vigilant to protect the natural beauty of the area. To mark our Centenary year we are planning these significant events and activities.

South Downs for All:  a two-year lottery-funded project to encourage children to know and love the Downs. We’re working with two secondary and six primary schools to take children on field trips on the Downs.  The schools chosen have higher than average less well-off and ethnic minority children: groups which are less likely to visit the great outdoors.

A fascinating new book on the history of the Friends. Written by Richard Reed, who has been a member for a remarkable 75 years, the book traces our history from the struggles of the 1920s when there were few planning controls to the challenges of today.  The book is available to all members and available to purchase on our website.

Stimulating talks by prominent personalities. We have arranged tremendous online talks in 2023 by

  • Hilary Benn, the Labour Member of Parliament for Leeds Central who, in 2009, signed the order confirming the designation of the South Downs National Park. Register here!
  • Alistair Appleton, television broadcaster (Escape to the Country), psychotherapist and meditation teacher at Mindsprings in East Sussex
  • Isabella Tree, award-winning author of Wilding who, with her husband Charlie Burrell, run the rewilding project at Knepp Estate in West Sussex

Recreation of Hilaire Belloc’s Four Men walk We will walk in the summer of 2023 perhaps one of the first long-distance trails, Hilaire Belloc’s route from Robertsbridge to South Harting. We’re also thinking as well of ways to make the walk better known.

Making a length of footpath more accessible We plan to improve a selected footpath to make it accessible for wheelchair users. We’re still working out the details of the best site to choose and will keep you updated.

A cycling festival Cycling, particularly with electric bikes, can help people access suitable routes on the Downs. We are working with selected bike shops this summer to run events near the South Downs Way to demonstrate and try the latest regular and electric bikes.

Centenary appeal Would you like to help these exciting events and projects happen?  Please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!