The Surrey Hills Board welcomes new Independent Chair

14th December 2022

On Wednesday 7 December, The Surrey Hills Board thanked their outgoing Independent Chair, Heather Kerswell, for her fantastic commitment to the Surrey Hills National Landscape. The Board welcomed their new Chair, Kathy Atkinson into her new role.

“It is a real privilege and a pleasure to have been appointed as the new Independent Chair of The Surrey Hills Board, and I am grateful to Natural England and to all the Board members for placing their confidence in me. I know I have some pretty hefty shoes to fill; Heather Kerswell has been an incredible Chair, taking up the role just before the pandemic, and she has given fantastic support to the Board and to the staff team during a difficult few years.

I cannot think of a more exciting or challenging time to take up the role of Chair. The boundary review currently being led by Natural England is a once in a generation opportunity to engage residents and visitors with the Surrey Hills National Landscape, and I cannot wait to see the proposals for the boundary, and to encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation (due early next year) to finalise these.

Whilst the boundary review is a fantastic opportunity for the Surrey Hills, the challenges facing us are starker than ever. I come from a campaigning background, and I make no apology for that. If we are, collectively, to improve access, restore nature and improve biodiversity, manage our food and energy production (and use) and, in my view, most importantly, arrest climate change, then we are facing the fight of our lives. It is a fight for the National Landscape we treasure.

Perhaps we should look back to some of the great social movements of the 20th century for inspiration… the civil rights movement, women’s equality, even the original National Parks and countryside access movement in the 30s and 40s. These societal shifts were not achieved by administrators, but by visionaries who galvanised communities and mobilised the public in support of a radical change. So, this is our job, and we have no time to waste.”

Kathy Atkinson, Independent Chair The Surrey Hills Board

About Kathy

Kathy has lived in Guildford for most of her adult life; she has two teenage children and has been Chief Executive of the Safer Tourism Foundation for the last six years. She also holds a non-executive role with Surrey Heartlands NHS Integrated Care Board. For seven years Kathy was Chief Executive of the Campaign for National Parks, and she has also worked for a range of charities including Voluntary Service Overseas.

Heather Kerswell (left) with Kathy Atkinson (right)