A HAMPSHIRE volunteer and countryside campaigner has been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s honours for services to the South Downs and to countryside campaigning.

Christopher Napier, a member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and a past chairman of its Hampshire branch, based at St Cross, Winchester, has been honoured for his work to protect and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside.

CPRE Hampshire chairman Dee Haas said: “I have observed Christopher Napier’s dedication to the preservation of the Hampshire countryside and he continues to fight to keep our countryside unspoilt and tranquil. This recognition is truly deserved.”

Admiral Sir Brian Brown, vice-president of CPRE Hampshire, said: “The major achievement of Christopher Napier has been to mobilise widespread support for the concept of the South Downs becoming a national park and then to prepare and present highly-professional evidence which secured inclusion of appropriate parts of the Weald within that designation.

“He has been a powerful and effective advocate for the natural and man-made heritage of the county of Hampshire.

“In addition to CPRE at national and county levels, a lot of his time has been involved in helping a range of other organisations, including The Petersfield Society, the South Downs joint committees, and Drum Housing Association.”

Mr Napier, who lives in Petersfield, and who is currently chairman of CPRE Hampshire’s voluntary planning and policy group, said: “I am delighted to receive this award and am grateful for the willing support of our dedicated CPRE staff and volunteers. It has been a pleasure to meet so many people around the county who have the well-being of our countryside at heart.”

CPRE Hampshire believes a beautiful, thriving countryside is important for everyone, no matter where they live. Its work in the county spans wide-ranging countryside and rural issues – from landscapes, hedgerows and dark skies to housing and planning, farming and food, transport, energy and waste and the rural economy.

This year is CPRE Hampshire’s 50th anniversary year.

Meanwhile, former Hampshire County Council chief executive Andrew Smith has been honoured with a CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

The award recognises Mr Smith’s contribution to public services over the past 40 years, making a difference to communities and resulting in Hampshire becoming one of the highest-performing local authorities in the country.

Mr Smith was awarded an OBE in 2006 and one year later was appointed as chief executive to the county council where he was later feted for introducing an entrepreneurial and visionary approach to managing and developing public services – all through a period of financial constraint and challenge.

Mr Smith worked for the county council for more than 25 years, although his work extended beyond Hampshire to central Government departments.

He stood down from his post at chief executive at the end of October last year, when he handed over the reins to John Coughlan.