Meet CPRE Derbyshire’s Chair, John Ydlibi
It’s Trustees’ Week, and we want to celebrate the incredible work our local group trustees do to protect, promote and enhance the countryside. John Ydlibi, Chair of CPRE Derbyshire, tells us all about his work and why he loves the countryside so much.
CPRE Derbyshire is one of forty local CPRE groups that make up our network. Geographically, it covers most of Derbyshire, but not the Peak District (which is covered by CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire). This is a huge area of beautiful countryside which includes the southern and eastern Derbyshire Dales, as well as towns like Matlock, Chesterfield and Cromford – along with the City of Derby region, and Swadlincote to the far south.
John Ydlibi has been chair of CPRE Derbyshire for 16 months, but has been volunteering for other charities for 30 years. Speaking about joining the group, he said, ‘I’d recently retired, and saw an advert for the Chair of CPRE Derbyshire. I’m very aligned with CPRE’s views and the charity naturally compliments my memberships of National Trust, RSPB and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.’
Chair and trustee
Like the national charity, CPRE local groups are full of expertise spanning a wide range of areas: planning, biodiversity and conservation, marketing, farming, community engagement and more. John brings a wealth of experience to his role.
As you might expect, a big aspect of the work is planning: ‘We focus on planning applications and deciding which we may want to raise an objection to; monitoring and commenting on local area plans through their development’. But the group is also active in many other areas too. John adds, ‘We campaign on issues to protect the countryside, rural life, the environment and wildlife and implementing actions, such as Hedgerow Heroes, which mitigate against climate change and improve biodiversity.’
In addition to the vital campaigning work, John’s also central to keeping the group active and progressing. ‘We’re always looking out for new members to help meet our aims, as well as promote CPRE and CPRE Derbyshire in the local area.
‘We also work regularly with other CPREs to develop strategies and policies to address region or country-wide issues.’
Highlights and challenges
Working on a local level to promote and protect the countryside is rewarding, but not without its challenges too. With planning applications submitted regularly, inbound mail from supporters and the general public to manage, events to run and a committee to lead, there’s plenty to keep John busy.
Looking back at the past year or so, John has a few highlights. ‘Helping to secure funding for the Three Counties project (Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire) has greatly boosted our capacity and reach. We’ve developed the website and social media presence, recruited volunteers and ran a great series of online talks.
‘We also received a £45k Hedgerow Heroes grant which is being used to plant and restore 2km hedgerows across 11 sites in the East Midlands.’
But, encouraging people to volunteer remains a challenge for John and the local group. ‘We had a lot of people on the committee that had been volunteering for ten years and were ready to move on. So while we’ve recruited new members, rather than giving us additional capacity, it has largely just offset the people that took a step back.’
A love for the countryside
Like all of our volunteers and trustees, John is driven by an inherent love for our countryside and green spaces. ‘The countryside is a place of beauty and serenity. It should be protected for future generations to enjoy,’ he says.
‘We need to prevent villages and towns merging into one big urban sprawl, losing their own natural identities.’
John also recognises and values the peace, quiet and wellbeing benefits of the countryside. ‘The countryside gives people some escapism from the pressures of modern life. it gives us peace, fresh air and benefits our wellbeing. Many of us have seen the benefit of this during the covid lockdowns.’
The value of volunteering
CPRE’s network of local groups is mostly powered by wonderful volunteers, who generously lend their time and experience to promote a thriving countryside.
‘I’d like to think my volunteering helps to preserve the Derbyshire countryside through preventing bad or unplanned developments, particularly within the Green Belt,’ he explains. ‘By campaigning on a wide range of issues: climate change, environment, and rural communities, we can make a difference.’
He adds, ‘But this is a long game. You do lose a few battles, but we’ve had plenty of victories to celebrate as well!’
As a volunteer of over 30 years, John sees the value of volunteering and the real impact volunteers can have. But, to protect and promote our precious countryside, we need more, he says. ‘Volunteering is the lifeblood of many charities and non-profit organisations such as CPRE. Please take up the challenge and volunteer for an organisation or cause you have a connection with.
‘I joined CPRE Derbyshire because I love the countryside – and we continue to make a difference. I’m proud of that.’
Recognising CPRE volunteers
This year, John has been nominated for a CPRE Volunteer Award. His work in steering CPRE Derbyshire towards greater success, as well as nurturing his committee and volunteers has made John an incredible asset to the CPRE network.
We’d like to thank John for his incredible work, progressive ideas and tenacious networking.