Dam Nonsense campaigners and Hampstead Heath bosses set aside differences for one night

Simon Lee farewell party at Burgh House

Simon Lee farewell party at Burgh House - Credit: Archant

Conservationists set aside their differences with the management of Hampstead Heath as they paid warm tribute to the work of its outgoing boss this week.

The Heath and Hampstead Society and the Highgate Society threw a farewell bash for superintendent Simon Lee, thanking him for his “outstanding stewardship” of the cherished green space, as he prepares to leave at the end of February after 13 years.

Despite being fiercely opposed to proposed dam works on the Heath, which Mr Lee has played a major part in bringing about, the societies were glowing in their praise.

Tony Hillier, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: “Your appreciation of how best to balance the ecology, estate management, planning law, sports and recreations, and PR challenges has been exemplary.

“With tact and consideration ably combined with hard technical graft, you have given a steady hand of support to five current and past chairs of the City’s Heath Management Committee through many difficult situations, not just in the past two difficult years but going back to 2001.”

Mr Lee, who is moving on to become chief executive of Wimbledon and Putney Commons in south London, was presented with a watercolour and two cartoons depicting scenes of the Heath as leaving gifts.

He said: “Managing the Heath is actually relatively easy, managing the passion and diametrically opposed views that exist on almost every subject of Heath management is the tricky part.

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“But I’ve been fortunate in having support from one of the most knowledgeable groups of local people. Your wise counsel has been invaluable in helping me to reconcile the divergent views and to always seek to take a common sense approach in the best interest of the Heath.”