Julia Bradbury: New President of Campaign to Protect Rural England, Peak Distrcit & South Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 13:23 29 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:49 20 February 2013

Julia Bradbury

Julia Bradbury

Friends of the Peak District and South Yorks CPRE's President and new presenter of TV's Countryfile

Charismatic, tenacious, confident, youthful and a great communicator: these words are often used to describe Barack Obama, the new President of the United States, but they apply equally well to Julia Bradbury, the new President of the Friends of the Peak District and the South Yorkshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Julia is a very busy and versatile television performer, who is best known as the co-presenter of Watchdog, the programme that takes a stand on behalf of consumers, and as presenter of two series of Wainwright's Walks, which saw her walking in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, the revered author of the Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.

Now, Julia is giving her support to an organisation that takes a stand on behalf of the countryside. The Friends and their CPRE colleagues have scanned no fewer than 18,000 planning applications and intervened in 91 of them. Their current concerns include the proposed Mottram-Tintwistle by-pass, the dispute over the interpretation of planning permission for the quarry on Longstone Edge and the threat posed by quarrying to the Nine Ladies stone circle on Stanton Moor.

When I spoke to Julia at the group's headquarters in Sheffield, where she was due to carry out her first official duty as President, she told me that the family home during her teenage years had been located only a few streets away. Her father would often take her walking in the nearby Peak District, particularly in the Stanage area, where she remembers trampling through great snowdrifts on one occasion.

Knowing that Julia's daredevil xploits on television have included flying with the Red Arrows and climbing to the summit of a 200ft sea stack, I asked her if she had joined the rock climbers on Stanage Edge during her youth. She said: 'At that stage of my life, I was content to stand at "base camp" and watch those who were more foolhardy than me, while casting a wistful eye on their exploits.'

In one episode of her recent Railway Walks series, Julia is seen meeting up with her father, Michael Bradbury, on the former track of the rail-line from Buxton to Bakewell, which is now the Monsal Trail, a popular footpath where she had often walked with Michael in her youth. Although her television work has taken her to destinations around the globe, she remains particularly fond of Britain's national parks, which she believes are an example to the world in how to manage beautiful landscapes that are also places where people live and work.

Although Julia had ambitions to break into television from a young age, she decided to leave King Edward VII School in Sheffield at the age of 16, rather than continue her education, because she wanted to 'get out there and work'. After employment in advertising and in her mother's fashion business, she applied for television work and, thanks to her self-confidence, charisma and persistence, was offered roles in cable television, before landing the glamorous job as GMTV's Los Angeles correspondent. Since then, she has gone from strength to strength.

Julia told me that one of her most satisfying programmes has been Wainwright's Walks, which not only prompted correspondence from families who had been inspired by the series to cancel their package holidays in favour of walking holidays, but also letters from people who had grown too old or infirm to walk in the hills, but felt that they could still enjoy the thrill of fell-walking by watching her programmes.

Turning to her new role with Friends of the Peak District and the South Yorkshire branch of CPRE, she said: 'The countryside played a huge part in my growing up and I hope that I can encourage more people to get out there and experience how beautiful those landscapes are. I'm delighted to support the work of the Friends, who are trying to make sure they remain beautiful for the future.'

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