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David Powell-Thompson was the guest speaker at the 2018 Wainwright Memorial Lecture to full house at the Rheged Centre on Saturday 20th October. He admitted to feeling nervous as this was his first foray into public speaking to a live audience! David has spent the best part of three decades involved in making Lake District walking films working first as a tripod carrier for the film crew, graduating to researcher before moving on the other side of the camera as presenter.

David’s love and passion in the Lake District landscape began very early in life when his father introduced the family to the area on their annual one-week holiday staying at Hawkshead. He was aware of Wainwright’s Guides from a young age as his father collected each guidebook as it was published. To enthuse the youngsters for a fellwalking holiday, he fitted their day shoes with hobnail studs!

Moving forward in his life story, David described how as headteacher at Eskdale Primary he first met Eric Robson, whose children attended the school. Eric wanted David to work with him on film he was producing - a series of Great Walks in the Lake District. The first walk was Haystacks and High Stile ridge and David’s first job was to carry the tripod!

David’s years of walking on the fells resulted in him taking on the role of researcher for later films. He drilled Eric, who was the presenter, on the detail of the 360° panoramic descriptions that became a feature of these films. In the film sequences of the Blencathra ascent via Sharp Edge, David was shown leading Julia Bradbury and then Stuart Maconie and Ed Byrne across this razor-sharp ridge, inspiring confidence in his nervous companions.

In his latest films, made with Terry Abraham, David moves in front of the lens to showcase two areas of the district as he knows very well - Eskdale and the Langdale valley. His love and passion for the Lake District fells shines through his work as presenter. The sequence of sunrise on Esk Pike is an emotional experience and demonstrates very clearly why Wainwright described the Lake District as ‘a sweet foretaste of heaven’.

It was a Memorial Lecture to inspire even the most reluctant walker to pull on their boots and head for the hills and was very much appreciated by the audience, who gave David a prolonged round of applause at its close.

Derek Cockell

Photograph: (L – R) Eric Robson (Chairman, The Wainwright Society) with David Powell-Thompson at the Memorial Lecture
Photograph © Derek Cockell
Clive Hutchby (R) with Derek Cockell Society Secretary (L). © Peter Linney