Open Spaces Society mourns passing of vice-president

Ronald Smith Open Spaces Society

Potters Bar's Ronald Smith - pictured here on his 90th birthday - has passed away aged 97. - Credit: Open Spaces Society

The Open Spaces Society is mourning the passing of vice-president, former treasurer and Potters Bar resident, Ronald Smith, who has died at the age of 97. 

A civil servant for 40 years, Ronald first worked at the Inland Revenue in Bristol, where he met his future wife, Margaret.  

By the end of his long and distinguished career, he was head of the Prisons Finance Division. 

After his retirement he moved Potters Bar, becoming treasurer then vice-president of the Open Spaces Society.  

He also represented the society on the Hampstead Heath Management and Consultative Committees. 


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Ronald also joined the Potters Bar Society shortly after its inception in 1961 and held various offices, including chairman and then life president.  

He was a founder member of the London Green Belt Council and was its chairman from 1980, holding the position for 25 years before becoming vice-president. 

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As part of his work, he was fascinated by the history of commons, leading to him acquiring the title of lord of the manor of Plardiwick at Gnosall in Staffordshire. 

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said: “It was our good fortune that Ronald selected the Open Spaces Society for his attention soon after his retirement.  

“He worked prodigiously for us and our interests. As our treasurer he nurtured our resources, and he spoke out for the protection of green spaces in and around the capital. 

“He is fondly remembered for the tireless manner in which he championed green spaces in and around London, for his detailed notes and his thoroughly-researched responses to government and local authority consultations. 

“He is greatly missed by the many organisations in which he was involved.” 

The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to use them. 

Two of the organisations early members included Sir Robert Hunter and Octavia Hill, who would go on to found the National Trust in 1895 along with Canon Rawnsley.

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