An access pioneer

John Bunting, 9 March 1918—13 June 2013

John Bunting from Sheffield, who has died aged 95, was a vice-president of the Ramblers.  A former steelworker he was an active campaigner for access, attending many rallies from the 1930s. 

On the outbreak of the second world war he failed the fitness test for active service and spent the war in the steelworks, with sacking round his legs to protect them from the heat in the furnace.  At the end of the war he became a manager.  I treasure the neat Sheffield-steel knife he gave me last year, along with an early Ramblers’ badge.

John was a cyclist in his youth.  He met Irene at Ravenstone youth hostel in the Peak District (see blog passim); she was a walker and so John gave up cycling and became a walker too.  They were married for 66 years and never went out for pleasure without each other. 

John and Irene on their fiftieth wedding anniversary, 5 April 1997

John and Irene on their fiftieth wedding anniversary, 5 April 1997

When Irene died in March this year John was devastated though he put an incredibly brave face on it, saying that he had had a wonderful life and a wonderful wife, and no one could ask for more.  Together they had attended access rallies and trespasses with fellow members of the Ramblers and the Sheffield Campaign for Access to Moorland (SCAM) and walked throughout the northern hemisphere.

I last saw John at the 81st anniversary of the Kinder Scout mass trespass in April this year, bright and twinkling as ever, despite his great loss the previous month.

At the Kinder trespass 81st anniversary in New Mills, 27 April 2013

At the Kinder trespass 81st anniversary in New Mills, 27 April 2013

He would phone me regularly for a chat.  I shall miss a dear friend and fellow campaigner, upon whom one could always depend, and who was one of the last of the pioneers for public access.

You can hear an interview with John here.

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About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in Access, Obituary, Ramblers, walking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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