THE man responsible for building the 400 plus steps at the side of Malham Cove is retiring from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) after a career spanning three decades.
Jon Avison will leave his job as Head of Park Management and the Authority’s Deputy Chief Executive at the end of the month.
Jon, 60, started his career with the National Park in 1980 as the area warden for Malhamdale.
“One of the first jobs I did was to organise the building of the steps up the side of Malham Cove because there was only a rough footpath there,” he said.
“We recruited all sorts of volunteers from RAF groups to school children and we did it all by hand – stone by stone.”
He then went on to become area manager for the south west of the National Park before being appointed Head of Park Management in 1999. Five years later he was named as the YDNPA’s Deputy Chief Executive.
“It’s such a great job,” he said.
“I was brought up in the Dales and, if working for the National Park Authority has enabled me in some way to help look after the area and its communities and to help other people enjoy it and appreciate it, then I retire a happy man.
“There have been lots of changes in the way of life in the Dales and in the YDNPA but the one thing that stays the same is the landscape – and that’s what it’s all about.”
Jon, who lives in Long Preston, said he had no major plans for his retirement, although travelling, home maintenance and music will be high on his priority list.
“I play guitar with three different groups of people and I’ll be doing a lot of different music projects,” he said.
Carl Lis, the YDNPA’s Chairman, said: "Jon will be really missed by all Members. He has always been an invaluable source of both advice and information. His commitment to the National Park and its purposes has been immense – an extremely hard act to follow."
Chief Executive David Butterworth said: "Jon has been an outstanding officer for the National Park Authority. The words 'true Dalesman' are often been mis-used but Jon really is a true Dalesman in every way.
“His contribution to the conservation and enhancement of the landscape of the National Park and his work in ensuring public enjoyment have been immense. He will be truly missed."