Janet Davis, our retired senior policy officer has been awarded an OBE in the 2018 Queen’s birthday honours list.
The accolade, for services to the environment and walkers in Britain, reflects Janet’s many years of work as a guardian and champion of the path network, as well as her expertise on rights of way law and practice. Her work has helped thousands of people to access the countryside and enjoy the benefits of walking.
It also acknowledges Janet’s long career with the Ramblers, Britain’s walking charity, where she was employed for more than three decades (1984 - 2016). Throughout that time, Janet worked on countless path issues, getting involved in legal action and working with legal advisors on high-profile cases through to the House of Lords. Many of these cases created vital legal precedents.
Janet has also offered advice and training to Ramblers volunteers, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to deal with local path problems. During her time with the Ramblers she played a central role in securing better laws to protect public paths, from obstruction and failure to reinstate after ploughing for instance, and in pivotal legal cases which established important principles for the addition of paths to the official maps.
Although Janet has retired from the Ramblers, she is still a member of the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Stakeholder Working Group, which worked on the rights of way provisions which appear in the Deregulation Act 2015. The Act makes important changes to the process of recording public rights of way, via a package of reforms that will be beneficial for walkers and landowners alike.
Speaking of the award, Janet said: “I am a walker myself and so have been incredibly lucky to work in a job which meant I could help to protect and improve our wonderful path network so that everyone can have the opportunity to explore and understand both our countryside and the paths within out towns and cities.
“It was also an enormous privilege to work alongside the Ramblers incredible team of volunteers for so many years and to help them to resolve problems on the path network. The Ramblers is a team and so I am accepting this award for all of them.”
Janet received a degree in life sciences and a PhD in freshwater ecology from the Polytechnic of Central London before working at Imperial College, London on environmental policy. She joined the Ramblers in 1984 to help monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, which had amended the process for creating, changing and recording rights of way. She soon became a specialist on rights of way law, as well as an expert on a broad range of policy issues, from agriculture to the environment.
Our chair, Kate Ashbrook said: “In her 32 years with the Ramblers Janet quietly and effectively made a huge difference for walkers, by giving our volunteers the confidence to defend the path network and helping them to understand and use the law to the advantage of the walking public. Janet: we salute you”