A MEMORIAL gathering is being held to celebrate the life of countryside and environment champion Wilf Fenten who died suddenly on August 7.

Wilf lived in Selside, in the Ribblesdale area of Craven, for 35 years, and was active in the local community as a parish councillor, planning officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, clerk of Airton Quakers, and supporter of the Friends of the Dales. He continued to fight for a sustainable landscape and sustainable energy. He was outspoken against unsympathetic planning applications which would not help Dales communities and when landscape was threatened. He also travelled throughout Europe advising national parks on sustainable tourism.

He was born during the final throes of WWII in a crowded air-raid bunker in Germany. He was christened Wilfried, meaning ‘wills peace’, and seldom was a name better chosen. The allies liberated the area a week after his birth, but Wilf experienced a society scarred by conflict and appalled by its own recent past. From early on he was imbued with a desire for peace and to serve others.

As a young man, Wilf also developed a passion for Britain. In the 1960s he moved to London. He trained as a translator and working freelance was able to refuse work for military corporations. He chose to stay in Britain to avoid conscription by the Bundeswehr and became a British citizen.

In 1968, Wilf married Hilary, and they were blessed with two sons, Aidan and Frank. While raising a family, Wilf and Hilary made time to help and befriend homeless meths drinkers in London and were active in the peace movement. Wilf also discovered a love for nature, taking his sons hiking all over Britain. He developed a special affection for the north of England, walking the Pennine Way twice.

In 1989 Wilf and Hilary moved to The Shaws, in Selside, carefully renovating the house. They also found a spiritual home among local Quakers, valuing their lack of dogma and commitment to non-violence. Wilf also embarked on a second career as consultant to European national parks.

Wilf died suddenly on August 7, 2023 during a walk with his family near Selside. He said often of the Dales that the landscape spoke to him like no other. His last words, seeing a butterfly flitting on the fellside by Ingleborough, were: "Look at the lovely fritillary.”

A memorial service open to all with no need to RSVP will be held at 2pm on Saturday, October 14, at Cracoe Village Hall, BD23 6LQ.