John Grimshaw CBE has been named by the Outdoor Writers & Photographers Guild as the recipient of its 2014 Golden Eagle Award. Under his leadership Sustrans became the UK’s foremost sustainable transport charity. The OWPG’s Golden Eagle is awarded annually to a person deemed to have “rendered distinguished or meritorious service to the outdoors”. Previous recipients have included ecologist Dr Adam Watson, environmentalist Marion Shoard, author Bill Bryson OBE, mountaineer Sir Christian Bonington CBE and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough CBE.
A statement from the external panel of judges said: “John Grimshaw is a living legend. In this day and age, anyone who has had such an impact on getting our society up off the sofa and taking part in more healthy exercise is a hero.
“Sustrans has become a potent force in British life and is very impressive but the legacy that has inspired very many similar projects has been groundbreaking and inspirational.”
On hearing of the guild’s honour, Grimshaw said: “I am delighted to be chosen to receive this award. I have spent nearly forty years creating paths to enable people to walk and cycle, to work and for pleasure. It is particularly pleasing to be honoured by a group of people who spend their working lives telling people to use them.”
Guild chairman Jonathan Williams said: “We are delighted to grant our Golden Eagle Award for 2014 to John Grimshaw. His contribution to the environment and sustainability is peerless and the National Cycle Network has become a much-loved national asset.”
The award will take the form of a painting of Barmouth Estuary, by guild member and respected watercolour artist David Bellamy. It will be presented at an awards dinner at the end of October, held during the guild’s annual meeting weekend, at Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre in Capel Curig, in the heart of Snowdonia National Park.
Grimshaw led Sustrans for nearly thirty years. During that time the charity signed more than 10,000 miles of the National Cycle Network. Today, the network is 14,500 miles long. He was replaced as the CEO of Sustrans in 2008.
At John Grimshaw & Associates, he continues to help and inspire local authorities, universities, cycling groups, national parks, walking organisations, and others to negotiate and create inspiring traffic-free, sustainable walking and cycling routes, often enhanced by works of outdoor art.
His current projects include the reconstruction of the River Avon Towpath from Bristol to Hanham (including a new bridge over the river to Keysham), a crossing of the River Axe via the Brean Cross Sluices to connect to Weston-super-Mare, and working with the Upper Tweed Railway Paths group to extend the trail network west of Peebles.
He has recently produced, in conjunction with Dutch engineers Royal HaskoningDHV, a comprehensive field study proposing a high quality walkers’ and cyclists’ route within three-miles of the entire proposed high-speed rail link (HS2) from London to Manchester and Leeds.