brenda parker way basingstoke and deane A long distance path across north Hampshire

Brenda Parker 1939 - 2008

Brenda was brought up in Aberdeen, Scotland, and in 1961 graduated in Chemistry and then obtained a PhD in Polymer Chemistry, both at King’s College, Aberdeen. After three years as a post-doctoral research assistant at UMIST she moved to Farnborough to work for the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), now QinetiQ, applying her expertise on the adhesives and composite materials which form an integral part of brenda parkeraircraft construction. At Manchester she began leading walks, this continued in Hampshire, for the Ramblers groups, Hampshire County Council, and other walking groups in the area which she did for the rest of her life. In 1970 she was elected on to the predecessor of the Hampshire Area Council of the Ramblers and began her involvement with rights of way work. In 1972 she helped set up the North East Hants Group, becoming their Footpath Secretary. She represented the Ramblers during the creation of the South Downs Way bridleway through the Meon Valley.  In 1982 she became Joint Hampshire Area Footpath Secretary, and then from 1983 she held this position on her own until 1997 when the Area Footpath Secretariat was formed to share the role between 4 volunteers, Brenda being one of them.

During the 1970s and '80s a series books of walks in Hampshire Brenda Parker bookswere published in conjunction with Hampshire Area Ramblers Association (as it was then) and Brenda was the author of three of these. These aimed to introduce people to walking while also promoting the Ramblers.

In 1994 Brenda retired from the RAE and moved to Basingstoke in 1998. She then served for five years as Area Chair, helping to set up two young walkers groups, the Wessex Weekend Walkers and the Hampshire 20-30’s Group. In 2000 she helped establish the North Hampshire Downs Group and served as their Footpath Secretary and Access Officer until 2007. Throughout her time in these roles, Brenda’s Area and Group responsibilities were extensive and time consuming, often being a link between the county highways team and the local volunteers. For example, coordinating and recording the Group’s rights of way surveys across the parishes, doing several parishes herself particularly if it had not been checked for some time, getting work parties to assist the county with path clearance and waymarking, offering inputs on rights of way diversions, lobbying for open access and claiming rights of way under the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000, assisting the county’s revision of the Definitive map in 2006, and consulting on the county’s Countryside Access Plans. In 2008, as recognition for her work for the Ramblers and Hampshire’s rights of way network, she was nominated for Lifetime Honorary Membership of The Ramblers’ Association, but died just days before the presentation was to due to be made.

While not working on rights of way matters, her other interests included Scottish Country Dancing and bird watching. Her passion for walking and bird watching Red Kiteand wildlife in general took her to many places around the world and gave her a world-wide circle of friends.  She was a member and supporter of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HWT). Along the course of the Brenda Parker Way there are several HWT sites and other wildlife habitats, and the waymarks show an outline of a chaffinch.

We hope that this walk is a fitting memorial to the life of Brenda Parker.