Hazel Perham, a heroic campaigner from Treverva in west Cornwall, died on 20 February aged 74. She was immensely brave, a fiesty fighter for paths and access, and ever cheerful. Born and brought up in Dagenham she never lost her Essex accent, but was very much at home in Cornwall where she lived with her husband Alan, and her family close by.
She was very much part of the Treverva community, and her friends on Facebook have enjoyed the galaxy of old photos and memories which she posted there when her illness prevented her from walking.
Hazel saved countless paths and made west Cornwall a much better place for walkers, we owe her so much.
This is the blog I wrote about her last October when she was presented with a Ramblers’ award.
No one could be more deserving of recognition for Ramblers’ volunteer effort than my friend Hazel Perham from Treverva in west Cornwall. This week she received a certificate from the Ramblers for her outstanding contribution to walking.
Hazel, who tragically can no longer walk far because of illness, has devoted her life to improving conditions for walkers on the battlegrounds of West Cornwall. For far too long Cornwall’s inland paths were in a deplorable condition, with severe blockages particularly through farmyards, and there was hostility to walkers (despite our contribution to the Cornish economy).
Small in stature but with huge courage, Hazel would combat these, and was a terrier at the heels of the council and intransigent landowners.
I was pleased to join Hazel, and her colleague Maureen Donovan, in opposing the diversion of Manaccan footpaths 7 and 21 at Trevaddra Farm on the Lizard peninsula where Cornwall County Council had connived with an obstructive landowner. We won following a public inquiry in 1996 at which I called Hazel as one of my witnesses, and we won our costs too. But two years earlier she had been with a group of ramblers who were accosted by the landowner, Edward Bone; he grabbed her and threw mud and dung at her. Such charming behaviour was not unknown in Cornwall in those days.
For years Hazel was footpath secretary for Kerrier, chairman of the Cornwall Ramblers’ Access Group and a pillar of the Penwith/Kerrier Group, regularly leading walks through her beloved countryside.
The best day
Says Hazel: As I sit in my chair remembering all my varied works and achievements for the Ramblers I chuckle to myself. The best day was when I got a very excited phone call from Head Office to tell me my name had just been read out in Parliament and a big cheer went up from the gallery. This happened after an awful lot of campaigning for access legislation, by continually writing to my MP Candy Atherton, and she told parliament I was always writing to her. The worst days were being bitten by a sheepdog in the back of the leg and another time was getting an electric shock from a heavy duty electric fence on the back of the head. I’ve never been the same since.
Now Hazel keeps all her Facebook friends entertained with her many memories and photographs, particularly of Cornish life past and present. She is a mine of information.
We have so much to thank Hazel for, and it is amazing that she has remained cheerful and smiling through all her adversities. Thank you Hazel, you are a dear and loyal friend to all ramblers.
Hazel Perham, 20 January 1943 – 20 February 2017