Lake District’s chief executive to stand down

Published on: 10 Jan 2024

Richard Leafe, chief executive of the Lake District National Park Authority, who announced he will leave his role at the Authority at the end of 2024.

Richard Leafe, the longstanding chief executive of the Lake District National Park Authority, has announced his departure from what he describes as ‘the most wonderful job.”

Having led the Authority for more than 16 years, environmentalist Richard is planning to take another role in the national park he knows so well, as he heads into the fells to guide others as an independent mountain leader.

Richard will continue to lead the National Park Authority throughout 2024, stepping down at the end of the year.

Richard said: “It’s been the most wonderful job in the world, which is why I’ve dedicated 16 years to this incredible national park.

“When I first joined, I wanted to see a national park that was truly a park for everyone, managed in harmony with sustainable development and protected for nature and climate. Whilst we’re still on that journey, we have made huge steps forward in recent years in the way people access and enjoy the national park, connecting with nature and caring for the environment. I’m proud to have been part of that positive change.

“Although there have been challenges that come with managing England’s largest national park and World Heritage Site, I’ve been fortunate to have worked alongside the most dedicated and passionate people. From our knowledgeable staff and volunteers to our members and partners, it’s a real team effort to look after this national park.

“I look forward to supporting the Authority in our recruitment for this great role, whilst starting to look ahead to my new challenge as a mountain leader.”

Chair of the Lake District National Park Authority, Tiffany Hunt, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Richard for his energy, vision and dedication to the Lake District National Park.

“Richard has passionately led a rallying cry to tackle climate change in the Lake District, creating our own ‘carbon budget’ long before the term ‘net zero’ was used. He’s a champion of partnership working, identifying that collaborative action is the best way to look after this special place.

“When Richard steps down at the end of 2024, he can do so knowing he has made a positive difference to the Lake District, that will be felt for many years to come.”

Recruitment for the Chief Executive role will begin in spring 2024.

Photo shows: Richard Leafe, Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority, who announced he will leave his role at the Authority at the end of 2024.

Richard Leafe biography:

Richard Leafe is originally from Nottingham, educated Fernwood Comprehensive School and Sheffield University, graduating with a BSc and MPhil in Geography. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university in 2016. Having previously worked for English Nature and its successor Natural England in a variety of roles from coastal geomorphologist to Regional Director for the North West, Richard joined the Lake District National Park Authority in June 2007 as Chief Executive. Richard’s hobbies include walking, climbing, fell running, cycling and skiing, all supporting a life-long passion for high places.

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