Sylvia Rosalind Pleadwell Sayer, Lady Sayer (1904 – 2000), was Chairman of the Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA) from 1951 to 1973 and a passionate campaigner for Dartmoor.
Her grandfather was Robert Burnard, one of the founding members of the DPA, and after coming to live on Dartmoor in 1928 she became heavily involved in the politics of Dartmoor conservation, something which continued until her death, just after the turn of the 21st century.
Lady Sayer was closely connected with the foundation of the Dartmoor National Park in 1951 and was a member of the park’s governing committee from 1952 to 1957. She resigned in protest at the park’s failure to protect the environment of Dartmoor as she felt it should.
Once she became Chairman of the DPA, Lady Sayer was the principal driving force behind the organisation’s battles over a wide range of conservation issues. These included the erection of telecommunications equipment, the use of the moor by the army for training purposes, the construction of reservoirs, mining and the building of roads. She was also associated with a range of national organisations which campaigned on the types of issue that were close to her heart, such as the Open Spaces Society, the campaign for National Parks and the Ramblers’ Association.
A Legacy Preserved
Lady Sayer was very diligent about keeping records of the many campaigns she was involved in and after her death a party of staff from the Devon Archive Service made a memorable trip to her house, Cator, to collect a large number of boxes of archive material. The collection is an invaluable record of Lady Sayer’s vital role in the preservation of many aspects of Dartmoor life.