CPRE Kent sprang back to life in Thanet last autumn with the formation of a district committee, bringing to an end far too lengthy a period without a formal CPRE presence on the isle, where we have some 60 members.
At a meeting in October that attracted a healthy turnout of 16 people, David Morrish was elected chairman, and it’s a pleasure to introduce him here to a wider audience.
David was born and bred in Birmingham and had his epiphany in 1959 when despatched for a three-day Scouts expedition through the ‘Blue Remembered’ Shropshire Hills, where began his love for the tranquility of the English countryside.
At 18, he went north to study civil engineering at Leeds University, explore the dales and fells and learn the finer arts of ‘coarse rugby’. His final-year interests were traffic and transport and architecture.
After graduating, David returned to Birmingham to work for Freeman Fox as a fledgling transport planner on the West Midlands Transport Study and in new-town planning.
The latter opened the door to training as a civil engineer with Telford New Town Development Corporation in glorious Shropshire, where he met Pat, a Shropshire lass and the love of his life. The couple were married at the delightful Thomas Telford church of St Michael’s, Madeley, Telford, in 1968.
In the 1970s David and Pat moved west to Staffordshire, where David worked for local authorities on highways traffic and transport schemes. Meanwhile, the advent of three sons saw David rejoin the Scouts as a leader, with expeditions and hikes into the Peak District and Wales… and a compulsory back-to-basics camp each year in the Shropshire Hills!
His professional career ended with a proud 10 years as chief technical officer for Stafford Borough Council, where, as well as highways, drainage and other municipal engineering, David was involved in all aspects of planning and carried the can as accidental custodian of Stafford’s High House (an Elizabethan town house built in 1594 – the largest timber-framed town house in England (way bigger than any in Stratford-on-Avon!) – the ancient cottage of angler Sir Izaak Walton and Stafford’s Norman castle.
Early retirement gave David the opportunity for a variety of challenging assignments, including motorway network management at the Highways Agency, strategic public transport planning at Birmingham City Council and devising ‘recovery plans’ for the transport department at an inner London authority.
In 2015, with two of David and Pat’s sons and their families out of the UK, the couple moved 250 miles “down Watling Street” to Kent to be close to their youngest son and his family… they chose Thanet, they say, because it has the best coastline in the South East and a relaxed lifestyle.
Shortly after arriving, David became embroiled in protests against the Draft Local Plan; looking through the groups involved in consultative planning, he realised CPRE Kent offered the most cogent support and professional advice and made the decision to join and get involved.
With a group of new friends, it was decided Thanet needed its own CPRE committee to share information and offer support.
Last word to David: “I feel very honoured to have been elected as District chair and I will do my best to serve and lead us forward.
“In the three months since being elected as District chairman it has been a pleasure to have the opportunity of meeting fellow CPRE members from across Kent and to be made to feel so welcome.”
Monday, 19 March, 2018